Rooftop solar

We’re seeing huge growth in the number of customers in our network installing rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

It’s a popular way of taking control of energy reliability and costs in your home and there are great incentives available through the Victoria Solar Homes Program.

On the days when you generate more solar electricity than you need for your home, then you may be able to export this excess power back to our network and receive money in the form of a feed-in tariff shown on your electricity bill.

Our networks take electricity to and from your home. This means we need to balance the amount of power flowing from large-scale generators as well as private solar PV systems, in order to keep the electricity supplies reliable for all our customers.

In many areas though, the ability of the network to absorb the solar PV exports can be limited. It doesn’t stop anyone from installing a solar PV system but it can affect the amount of exports available.

Either way, we encourage you to check with us early in the decision-making process to make sure you can do everything you want to make the investment stack up.

There is great information available to help you understand the costs, benefits and technical requirements associated with investing in solar PV.  We’ve tried to save you time and money by giving you access to everything you need to know in one place.

This includes information on:

  • getting the right smart inverter so you can export when this is available
  • ensuring you’re on the right energy plan and tariff to minimise your electricity costs
  • how to find an accredited installer or solar retailer
  • all the things that need to be considered in the financial case for your solar PV investment.

We are members of the Clean Energy Council which is a not-for-profit organisation that represents and works with Australia’s leading renewable energy and energy storage businesses as well as rooftop solar installers to further develop clean energy in Australia.

They have a  range of information available for consumers  about buying solar including useful guides and tools to finding a solar retailer or installer in your area.

To help you on your journey

Other useful information is available through government, industry and consumer bodies that have tools and tips for you to make sure you make the right electricity choices for your home:

Your steps to solar success

If you’re new to solar, you’ll probably have a few questions about how everything works. To help, we’ve made this easy guide to support you through every step of the journey.

1. Check before you connect

Your installer will lodge a solar pre-approval application with us through our  eConnect portal.

We aim to enable most customers to export the amount of excess solar they are looking for. But sometimes, this is not possible depending on the capacity of the network in your neighbourhood. It doesn’t stop you from installing solar for your own self-consumption. But it might make a difference to the size of the system you contract.

Please make sure your installer provides us with your contact details on the application form too. That way we can keep you both informed of the outcome of the assessment

2. Choose an accredited installer

Installers and retailers of solar are accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) to bring about better standard of service within the solar and storage industry.

3. Make sure you have the right inverter with the right settings

This is something you need to make sure your installer does.  Since 1 December 2019, all Victorian Network Service Providers are mandating the use of “smart inverters” on all rooftop solar PV systems.

A smart inverter has power quality response mode settings (i.e. ‘Volt-Watt’ and ‘Volt-Var’ applied). That means, it makes sure your system doesn’t trip-off when the power voltage fluctuates. Otherwise, when trips happen it means your system will not be generating power anymore for your home or for export.

So make sure your scope of work with your installer specifies the need for a smart inverter and make sure your installer signs off that the settings have been applied and turned on when the system is connected.

4. Review your contract

Your installer will submit a contract with us on your behalf letting us know your system is installed and has the right smart inverter settings working.  This contract is called the Model Standing Offer and essentially registers your solar connection with us.  If we don’t know it’s connected, then you won’t be able to receive the feed-in tariffs you may be expecting and we won’t be able to tell if there are issues with your connection.

5. Maintain your solar panels

Once your system is installed, there are two main things you’ll need to do each year to maintain your solar panels and make sure they are working efficiently.

First is to keep them clean.  Any build-up of dirt and grime should be removed.

Second, is to make sure you follow the regular maintenance schedule that your installer will provide. These make sure everything is operating correctly and safely for everyone.

You can organise for these checks to be done through a licenced electrician or your solar installer.

Solar tariff information

There are a number of different solar tariffs including premium feed-in and current feed-in tariffs.

Premium Feed-in Tariff

The Victorian Premium Feed-in Tariff (PFiT) is a jurisdictional scheme funded by electricity networks. PFiT started in November 2009 and is closed to new applicants. Existing customers may remain on PFiT until the scheme is closed in November 2024. The maximum installed capacity for PFiT customers is 5kW and eligible customers will receive a minimum of 60 cents per kWh for their exports.

What happens if a customer switches electricity retailer, moves house or increases their installed solar capacity?

PFiT customers can switch electricity retailers and continue to receive their payments. Customers should check with their retailer prior to switching if there are any exit fees under their existing contract.

Any house signed up to PFiT will remain eligible for the scheme regardless of whether the house is sold and new residents move in.

Is a customer increases their solar capacity they will no longer be eligible for PFiT payments.

Current Feed-in Tariff 

The Victorian feed-in tariff scheme commenced in 2013 and the minimum feed-in rate was revised in July 2017. The revised rate considers the following factors:

  • wholesale electricity market prices
  • distribution and transmission losses avoided by the supply of smale scale renewable energy generation electricity and;
  • avoided social costs of carbon and the avoided human health costs attributable to a reduction in air pollution

For further information regarding eligibility and the current feed-in rate please refer to energy.vic.gov.au

Closed Feed-in Tariffs

Standard Feed-in Tarrif (SFiT) and Transitional Feed-in Tariff (TFiT) were closed in December 2016.

Distribution Code requirements

The distribution code regulates distributing and connecting electricity to customers. It also covers embedded generating units, such as solar panels and transferring electricity between distribution systems. Under the Electricity Distribution Code owners of small embedded generators must comply with the code under its generation license.

  • Ensure that your generating source is capable of continuous uninterrupted operation at the system frequency of 50 Hz (or within any allowable variation that applies).
  • Ensure that your generating source and any associated equipment that is connected to the electricity network complies with Victoria’s Electricity Distribution Code, the Electricity Safety Act 1998 and all relevant Australian Standards and is maintained in a safe condition.
  • Ensure that your generating source’s electrical protection device meets the requirements of our electricity distribution system at all times. All grid interactive solar inverters which are connected to the Powercor network have to comply with AS4777 Australian Standard.

To help you understand and meet these obligations, we recommend the Clean Energy Council’s Guide to Installing PV for Households, which contains a section on maintenance on page 20.

Preventative maintenance checks from time to time are the best way to ensure your installation meets safety requirements and we suggest you organise these through a registered electrical contractor or your installer.

The safety of the community and our employees is our top priority. Therefore we may disconnect or ask you to disconnect your generating source if it is not safe, interferes with the local network or does not comply with the regulatory requirements referred to above.

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