By ERWIN CHLANDA
As the world is in crisis over skyrocketing costs of oil and gas the NT Government is axing a scheme designed to incentivise the use of renewable sources for electricity generation.
Some householders are currently receiving 26.65 cents per kilowatt hour for the power from their rooftop installations that they are feeding into the NT Government power grid.
As of July 1 this will be reduced by two-thirds to 9.13 cents.
Members of the solar industry in Alice Springs say this is a clear dis-incentive for people to become part of the move to electricity generation from sunshine, abundant in Central Australia.
One trader, Mark Schild, says it is worth examining whether Jacana, a division of the Power Water Corporation (PWC), is in breach of an agreement with current private suppliers.
Essential Services Minister Selena Uibo is the sole shareholder of PWC. She did not respond to a request for comment from the Alice Springs News. Meanwhile, her government is making a lot of noise about reaching 50% renewables by the end of this decade.
Jhana Cowham, from Solergy, says the zero-sum, one-for-one initiative was “definitely an incentive” for people to invest in solar. A $6000 grant for batteries will mostly cover just the energy requirements of each household, without excess to sell.
Shane Juffermans, from EcoKleenSolar who specialises in cleaning photo voltaic cells to enhance their performance, expects the feed-in tariff changes will work against the proliferation of solar power in town.
He calls the government’s move “a bit nasty”.
Mr Schild says past announcements by Jacana contradict earlier ones.
On May 20 Jacana’s “Customer Care Team” wrote to participants saying there will be changes on July 1 “which will impact your account moving forward”.
Mr Schild says this is contrary to earlier assurances of 90 days’ notice.
More disturbing is that participants appear to have been led to believe that their agreement would have no time limit so long as they stuck by its conditions.
They may well, at considerable cost, have installed solar power equipment in excess of their household requirements.
“Why should they” accept 9c for something PWC sells for 26c? asks Mr Schild.
He points to sections of the agreement dealing with Jacana’s right to terminate the agreement: “Provided the Customer first meets the eligibility requirements of clause 1, this Agreement comes into effect on the Commencement Date and will continue in effect until terminated in accordance with clause 9.”
Clause 9 stipulates a string of 11 conditions including the size of the PV units, the consumption of the house and changes of ownership.
This gives the impression that the agreement continues if these conditions are met.
On the other hand the agreement says it “may be terminated by Jacana Energy at any time by giving 90 days’ notice in writing to the Customer”.
The NT Government’s instrumentality will clearly need to do a lot better for the rooftop producers to spend their money to become a potentially important combatant of climate change.
PHOTO: Domestic solar plants in Zeil Street.