“Queenslander!” – Sunshine State likely to oppose AEMC solar export charge


“Queenslander!” cried Billy Moore as he and his Queensland (QLD) teammates roared down the tunnel to come out for the second half of Game One in the 1995 State of Origin series. It was a outcry that represented QLD’s idiosyncratic identity, and there has been no shortage of outcry against the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) draft determination, released in March, which revived its proposal for what is effectively a solar tax. And it might just be QLD that stands up to it.

According to the Brisbane Times, QLD “looks likely to oppose a move to charge solar users a fee when they sell excess electricity to the grid.” This came after an indication from QLD Energy Minister Mick de Brenni that he did not support the rule change. De Brenni asked for submissions to his department last month from energy users with their opinions on the proposed change, and it seems energy users are not happy with the prospect.

“The AEMC is consulting on a draft rule change proposed by a private electricity company in South Australia,” de Brenni told the Brisbane Times. “There is no doubt that intermittent renewables like solar are putting pressure on the network and stability needs to be addressed across the National Electricity Market.”

“My department is preparing a response to the proposal” de Brenni continued, “and I expect it will indicate that system-wide measures, especially investment in more storage, will encourage more solar and are preferable to the proposed rule change.”

Solar energy lobbyists Solar Citizens welcomed de Brenni’s position. “We congratulate the Queensland Government for joining Victoria in pushing back against this harmful proposal,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ national director.

“The same state governments that have empowered households to make the solar switch are the ones that have the power to stop solar owners from being unfairly penalised now,” Roberts continued, making the point that feed-in tariffs are already dropping and a tax on top would be a “double whammy for millions of Australia’s solar owners.”

Roberts advised against rushing through a rule change that will only “slug” solar households rather than continue to incentivise them.

Of course, unlike the 1995 State of Origin Series, New South Wales is winning the solar uptake race, overtaking QLD back in 2017. Nevertheless, according to the Australian Energy Council QLD has maintained a strong second place amongst the states and territories (excepting solar+battery uptake in which QLD lags). The Clean Energy Regulator reports that QLD had, up to March 2021, installed 778,579 solar systems.

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