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Consumers race to beat new dawn in solar scheme

by N Schneider

An unprecedented number of people applied for the solar power rebate just before the Newman government cut the bonus, but must now be patient while their applications are processed.

That is the advice from Solar Panels Perth and Water Ombudsman Forbes Smith who today issued a request for customers to understand the process would take time.

In June, Energy Minister Mark McArdle announced changes to the four-year-old Solar Bonus Scheme, saying the changes were needed to ensure every household did not pay too much to help pay for some homes to have cheaper solar power.

The benefit earned by Queenslanders who install solar panels and then provide power back to the grid was slashed from 44¢ per kilowatt hour to 8¢ on July 10, but anyone who had already signed up by that time would continue to receive the 44¢ per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff.

This afternoon, Mr Smith said people should remain patient while electricity distributors processed a record number of applications.

“When the state government announced that the 44¢ per kilowatt hour feed-in bonus would end on 9 July, an unprecedented number of people applied to distributors for approval,” he said in a statement.

“I encourage customers and solar industry members to be patient, as there will be delays in getting responses to enquiries and the approvals processed.”

Mr Smith said for customers wishing to access the 44¢ feed-in tariff rate, their electricity provider must have received a correctly completed application by midnight on July 9.

“Your electricity distributor will carry out the required scheme eligibility and network technical checks, and provided all criteria are met, they will approve the application,” he said.

The new 8¢ tariff would be reviewed by mid-2013 and was scheduled to end in mid-2014.

“Solar Bonus Scheme customers will continue to receive 44¢ per kilowatt hour until 1 July 2028 for electricity exported to the electricity grid provided they continue to meet eligibility criteria,” he said.

“Once your application has been approved and the required Solar Bonus Scheme compliance checks and the network technical assessment have been completed, your electricity distributor will send you a network connection agreement for you to sign.

“Once signed and returned, you will have until 30 June 2013 to install your system.”

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