No Thanks, Mr Newman


Yesterday was a clear, sunny day with not a hint of the political storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

2012-08-05 02Our household has now been identified as one of the 180,000 households in Queensland who are the culprits responsible for soaring electricity costs.

“Roughly 180,000 households are benefiting with low power prices or getting cheques and well over 1.5 million are paying for that benefit to those people.”  The Courier-Mail understands 92,600 Queensland households pay nothing for power or get money back as a result of the generous solar feed-in tariff introduced by the previous Labor government.

Our house has a perfectly angled, north-facing roof with virtually no obstructions (trees, buildings) to the sunlight.

We have 20 solar panels (3.7kW system) which were installed in November 2010.  We chose this system because our research and modelling indicated that this would be more than enough to cover our current and future electricity requirements.  It also means that by being judicious in our power usage, we are able to export a significant portion of the power generated by our system back to the grid.

According to Mr Newman and his government, we are making money at the expense of others.  Rich greenies are wreaking havoc on the budgets of the poor people who are struggling to make ends meet.

  1. I believe that climate change is real and acknowledge that we all need to make an active contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. I have a long-standing commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and do so by a variety of means.  Installing solar panels is just one of them.
  3. We funded the purchase of the grid-connected solar panels through a bank loan.
  4. The feed-in tariff was set by government to encourage people to invest in renewable energy sources.
  5. We chose a grid-connected system and pay all of the associated service charges to enable us to access power at any time of the day or night from the electricity grid.
  6. The feed-in tariff is contracted for 20 years (ending in 2028).

We will reconsider our position if any attempt is made to penalise those who have chosen to install grid-connected solar panels.  Our preferred option will be to move off-grid and we will invest in batteries to enable us to do this.  Therefore, the power generated by our solar panels will be used only by our household and none will be exported to the grid, resulting in a net loss to the electricity grid.

I do not deny that we do receive a monetary gain from the excess power that is generated and exported to the grid, however, all of the households who do this are providing a net gain of green power to the grid.  This is then ‘sold’ to other consumers who choose ‘green power’ with a premium cost, so it is only reasonable that we (the producers) should be paid a premium price (feed-in tariff) for our product.

The following information has been taken from here.  I cannot articulate these thoughts any more succinctly.

The market fails to take into account the true value and many benefits to the electricity network which arise from the adoption of renewable energy technologies embedded within the electricity grid. 

Solar PV, like other renewable energy sources, provide environmental benefits through reduced atmospheric pollution, and social benefits through industry development and job creation – for example through the installation of grid-connected solar systems, each with related economic benefit. 

When electricity is transmitted over a distance, some is lost through what is known as line loss. By installing rooftop solar arrays on houses, the electricity can supply not only the house on which it’s installed, but the surplus can feed other houses close by. 

Centralised power generation facilities also provide a relatively easy target for hostile parties and can be destroyed in natural disasters such as cyclones or fires. A decentralised network or grid connected systems allows for better energy security as it’s much cheaper and faster to repair a sub-station than it is to replace an entire plant.

It’s in the interests of our national security to decentralise power generation. 

During the summer months, it’s becoming increasingly common for blackouts to occur due to an overload of the mains grid.  It’s during these months that solar power installations can make their greatest contribution. 

A feed-in tariff for grid connected systems redresses these systemic market failures and threats and rewards solar electricity generation for its true value to the electricity market and wider society, by providing a financial incentive for the adoption of renewable energy.

So, to sum up I would like to say “Thanks, but no thanks” to Mr Newman.  Try to penalise me for choosing to make a positive contribution to the environmental footprint of this state and I will take my bat and ball (and solar panels) and go off-grid.  I am sure I will not be the only one.

10 thoughts on “No Thanks, Mr Newman

    • Thanks for the positive feedback. I need to get these thoughts out there – I am thinking of a letter to the editor as well as letters to our local member and Mr Newman himself.

  1. Couldn’t have said it better. We don’t have a system as big as yours and with a teenage son at home a lot through his uni years we are not in a credit postion yet but hope to be when there is only Glenn and me. We started with the basic 1kw system under the Federal Govt grant and increased it to 3kwh using finance. Our intention was to repay it over about four years with the rebates we would receive to our budget. However with the continuous increases this is now completely unlikely to happen and after our holiday at the end of the year we will need to increase our repayments to pay this back.

    For all those who thought this government would be better – think again.

  2. I’m not Campbell’s fan in so many ways!

    But, the issue at the heart of this, was poor financial planning. A feed in tariff too high will send false economic signals (and that’s great for people to invest in green technology), but it was never going to be sustainable. It’s like all sorts of economic manipulations the government does (with trade particularly), it causes false economies.

    I think it’s great that they assured you til 2028, and let’s hope they can’t repeal that.

    I work in the power industry (not in QLD), and I know that there is a huge long term benefit if people take up personal generation and feed in. The reality is, we don’t know how many, how much, where etc, to truly plan a grid with all this. If we had a critical mass with solar panels (or other distributed generation, which is individualised power generation) then we could plan better and build less power plants. But it’s such a huge gap between (what was) no distributed generation to a critical mass having it. For this reason, it makes ‘sense’ why the govts threw so much money at it.

  3. Thanks for your insight, Sarah. I agree that the feed-in tariff was that set was probably never going to be sustainable but like any agreement/contract they should honor it. I believe, that since I wrote this post that Mr Newman has confirmed that the tariff will not change for those who are contracted until 2028. However, he has flagged the possibility of other charges so I will reserve my judgement until there are more details.

    • I think, like you, they should honour the contracted agreement, for sure. But I can imagine Newman will try anything and everything to claw back money! I know a handful of people (being a QLDer myself) that have lost their jobs since his arrival. Hopefully you’ll continue to benefit from the good deed.

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