Household customers receive three types of benefits from installing renewable energy:
The benefits above vary depending on your system size, and the time and quantity of your household energy use. With the exception of item 3 (upfront discount) the benefits can only be estimated, it is not possible to provide an exact financial value in advance of installation so be wary of any sales people that make such claims.
Learning about how renewable energy works and the likely benefits you will receive requires a small investment of your time. However, the time invested will improve your understanding, likely leading to a more satisfactory purchase. The Department of Treasury’s Public Utilities Office has developed the FAQ document ‘Help me Go Solar’ to assist household customers in deciding whether household renewable energy is right for them. In addition to the fact sheets, high level information is provided below on the three benefits of system installation.
Households with renewable energy systems in Western Australia are net metered. This means that when the system is generating, the energy is first used to meet your household consumption, with only excess energy being exported to the electricity grid. When your system is not generating energy, or is generating less energy than you need, you will be purchasing electricity from the grid at your regular tariff rate.
All energy that you consume from your system is energy that you’re not buying from your retailer, therefore it has a value to your household that is equivalent to your tariff rate. Most household customers are on the A1 or A2 residential tariff, meaning that for every unit of energy saved, they save 26.47 cents. These savings are generally the biggest benefit that customers receive from installing renewable energy.
The benefits you receive from reduced electricity purchases will result in a lower bill, but the savings won’t be provided as a separate line item on your bill. This is because retailers do not have the ability to see how much of your system generation is used in the home, they can only see how much energy you purchase, and how much you export to the grid.
You can sell any excess energy your system generates under the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS). In most cases this is a minor benefit, with the majority of savings coming from using the energy yourself, rather than selling it your retailer.
The requirement for Synergy and Horizon Power to offer REBS is provided under the Electricity Industry (License Conditions) 2005 [external]. These regulations also establish the minimum eligibility criteria, as well as the requirements for amending the retailer’s REBS contracts. The rate offered under REBS reflects the market value of energy, and as such, it varies between retailers and over time (for Horizon Power customers, the rate varies depending on your location). For Synergy customers, and the majority of Horizon Power customers, the rate is much lower than residential tariff rate.
You should always check the rate and eligibility criteria with your retailer before you purchase a system, and remember that the rate can change, it is not locked in when you purchase your system.
The FAQ document ‘Solar Panels and Electricity Prices’ may also assist in understanding how the REBS rates are calculated and why the rate is usually less than the price you pay for electricity.
The Commonwealth Government provides incentives for the installation of renewable energy systems. Eligible installations are issued with Small-scale Technology Certificates which can then be exchanged for an up-front discount on a system’s purchase price (or less commonly, sold separately). Some information on this Scheme is provided in the FAQ document above. However, it is recommended that you seek further advice from the Clean Energy Regulator.
Western Australia’s residential net feed-in tariff scheme has now closed. Existing customers can find information and help on the FAQ ‘Feed-in Tariff Scheme’.
Last reviewed: 1 July 2017