Renewable energy in Australia: Solar boom reported in October.

Source: DailyClimate

ELECTRICITY price rises have driven a boom in rooftop solar with installations at their second highest levels.

Green Energy Markets’ Renewable Energy Index, funded by GetUp, shows more than 100 megawatts of rooftop solar was installed across Australia’s main grids in October.

It’s only the second time installations have passed more than 100MW in a single month. The first time was in June 2012 when much higher solar subsidies were available.

Across the country about 15,736 solar systems were installed in October.

The boom comes as a report released on Tuesday found gas prices were up 16 per cent in Victoria and electricity prices had surged by 5 per cent in 2016-17.

GetUp’s environmental justice director, Miriam Lyons, said people were sick of being ripped off by power companies and were taking matters into their own hands.

“It’s quite clear that crippling electricity bills are driving people to install more panels, to take

advantage of the free, clean energy the sun provides every day,” she said.

“This should be a wake up call to both governments and energy companies. People who

have the ability to install solar, are doing it in droves. Those who don’t are being slugged

with high wholesale prices and unreasonable retail mark-ups.”

The 106MW installed in October will produce enough energy to power 28,000 homes and is

expected to save households $195 million on power bills over the next 10 years.

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The Victorian Energy Market report found some customers were still struggling to pay their power bills despite companies offering “bigger and bigger” discounts.

“In other words, bigger discounts don’t necessarily mean cheaper bills,” Essential Services Commission chair, Dr Ron Ben-David, said.

“As a result, the advertised discount rate is a poor measure of the amount a customer can expect to pay for their electricity or gas.”

Dr Ben-David said the combined impact of rising prices and bill shock from not meeting discount conditions left many people struggling.

The report found increases in penalties for failing to keep up with discount conditions and steep energy price rises were forcing many customers into hardship programs.

The findings reinforced the need to push ahead with changes to energy rules to make sure those struggling to pay their bills received timely, flexible and meaningful assistance, Dr Ben-David added.

Those rules will come into effect in January 2019.

— With AAP