Australia’s smart solar reforms to get more clean energy into the grid

Around 80% of customers are expected to see their energy bills fall under the reforms, based on the latest retail and solar feed-in tariffs

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The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has finalised reforms that are expected to help inject more small-scale solar into the grid as well as support the growth of batteries and electric vehicles (EVs).

Under the reforms, power network companies will be obliged to make their networks smarter and will be accountable for getting their businesses solar and battery-friendly.

A key part of the changes is removing the companies’ ability to put blanket bans on customers sending solar energy back to the grid.

Other changes include giving the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) the power to develop a framework to govern how electricity networks should provide export services to customers and how they must report back.

The regulator will have to sign off on all network plans.

The AEMC expects 80% of customers to see their energy bills fall under the reforms – based on the latest retail and solar feed-in tariffs – as they would no longer pay for solar export services they aren’t using.

Its modelling shows even under a worst-case scenario, solar owners choosing paid plans would still earn at least 90% of what they do now.

AEMC Chair Anna Collyer said: “These new measures to drive smart solar are fundamental to enabling a modern electricity grid that delivers out to 2030 and beyond.

“They represent a profound change to the way poles and wires businesses must think about how they manage their network and turn the current one-way street delivering power to people’s homes into two-way super-highway where energy flows in both directions. Power network companies will need to deliver services to support solar – and they’ll be judged on their performance on how much solar exports they allow into the grid.”

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