Friday, February 06, 2009

Feed in Tariff questions for Premier Brumby

The following email was sent to Premier John Brumby and the Victorian Cabinet on 6/2/09.

Dear Premier Brumby,

I have now written to Energy Minister Peter Batchelor's office on five separate occasions concerning the Feed-in tariff legislation your government has stated it will introduce.

As yet, none of the questions (listed below) that I have asked concerning this tariff have been satisfactorily answered by Minister Batchelor or his staff, which I find very disappointing and quite unacceptable.

1. When will your feed-in tariff legislation be introduced?
2. When can a copy of it be sent to me?
3. What is the purpose of the 2kW array size cap?
4. Why are you not able to model the tariff for gross metering similar to successful tariffs in place in Germany and elsewhere?
5. Why you have chosen to keep the economic modelling that you say your decisions were based on secret?
6. When can I meet with you to discuss these concerns?
7. Why is the Brumby government proceeding with a feed in tariff for Victoria that will be completely ineffective and conflicting with proposed national legislation?
8. What is the Brumby government's target for domestic solar panel installation (in MW) for 2009 and 2010?

I note that Professor Ross Garnaut stated in his final report in 2008 that a gross feed in tariff was the best one to adopt, as has been introduced in the ACT feed-in tariff legislation where they pay on gross metering with a generous 10kW cap on array size.

Several explanations on the government website at are not consistent or accurate, some of which I address below.

Problems with 2kW cap on array size.

DPI have stated that:

Data available from the Commonwealth Solar Homes and Communities Plan indicates that the average size of residential PV systems is 1.5 kilowatts and over 90% of currently installed PV systems are at or below 2 kilowatts. For this reason, the 2 kilowatt capacity threshold was deemed appropriate for the premium fee-in tariff scheme."

Your stated purpose for the feed-in tariff is to
increase the residential uptake of PV systems. Putting an artificial cap on array size, based on the average systems installed to date, simply limits the financial incentives for households to install systems over 2kW for no good reason. It is therefore in direct conflict with your stated purpose. Your basis for the proposed 2kW cap on array size is simply not valid.

Encouraging energy efficiency

Your government states that encouraging energy efficiency is another objective of the feed-in tariff. This is simply not relevant. The feed-in tariff is a policy measure for encouraging the uptake of solar panels, not driving energy efficiency. I urge you to consider effective measures for encouraging energy efficiency such as:
  • Introducing energy efficiency labelling standards for all consumer electrical goods
  • Introducing energy efficiency standards as part of building standards
  • Consider raising the price of electricity so that consumers will be encouraged so use less
The cost to households is much lower than you claim

I understand that a cabinet committee submission from the Department of Sustainability and Environment stated that the so-called "gross feed-in" solar subsidy scheme would have cost households just $18 a year, or 35 cents a week, increasing electricity bills by just 2 per cent. This is significantly less than your previously claim, based in information not released from
Energy Minister Peter Batchelor's office, that claimed the cost at $100 a year for households. This claim now appears to be in error.

More solar panels could avoid or reduce recent power outages.

The very hot weather across Victoria last week, combined with many households using energy hungry air conditioners during the day (up to or great than 8kW) resulted in electricity supply falling below demand. Photovoltaic panels, if enough are installed, would generate power for the grid precisely when on hot sunny days when it is needed most and power is most expensive. Additional generation by solar panels may have avoided these supply problems and kept the grid, and Melbourne's train network, operating properly during the heatwave conditions.

Solar panels reduce emissions and therefore address climate change.

All power generated from PVs should be paid a gross tariff as they produce power that would otherwise be sourced from the coal-fired electricity, thereby reducing carbon emissions, This is an essential measure for tackling climate change, which is now an urgent concern following the recent extremely hot weather resulting in some deaths and huge disruption to Victoria's economy.

The Feed in tariff should also provide financial incentive for large scale solar power energy producers to encourage investment in large scale solar plants too.

I strongly urge you to implement a proven effective gross feed in tariff with no cap on array size as this would greatly boost installation of solar panels and green jobs, both of which will benefit Victoria.

Peter Campbell

Previous correspondence

Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: 5/10/2008 11:59 PM
Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 18:58:48 +1000
Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2008 23:38:12 +1000
Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 08 May 2008 22:29:08 +1000
Subject: LETTER: Please introduce a feed in tariff Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 11:26:37 +1100

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