Over the last 10 years, the rapid uptake of solar panels has led us to increase our network’s capacity to move electricity to and from homes and businesses. In 2020, we saw a 13% increase in the number of households with solar connections from 133,401 to 150,116. This means about one in every five homes connected to the Powercor network is now generating solar energy.
Our challenge is to make sure that while accommodating excess energy from rooftop solar, we continue to provide the high standards of reliability and power quality all our customers expect.
Over the next five years, we will undertake an extensive program of works to develop our network to enable more customers to connect solar, electric vehicles and batteries. In the meantime, we have brought forward these works in nine (9) areas which have an immediate need to support our customers solar installations.
The Solar Hotspots Program
Rooftop solar is an increasingly popular energy choice for customers wanting to save money or reduce their environmental footprint. The hotspot areas within our network are regions where there is a high rate of new residential housing developments and/or a local climate that makes solar attractive.
These include regional centres such as Ballarat, Bendigo and Portland as well as the precinct between Sunshine and Point Cook in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Over 148,000 customers live in these postcodes and in some, the average number of solar connections is greater than one in three homes.
We do not prevent customers from installing rooftop solar. However, we have a responsibility to all our customers to make sure any excess electricity generated by rooftop solar can be safely exported into our network.
From March to June 2021, dedicated field crews will be working on multiple locations a week to improve the network’s capacity and manage the electrical voltage that flows through the powerlines.
This includes working on the poles and wires to make sure the voltage is well balanced across all powerlines (known as low voltage phase balancing) and changing the settings on major transformers in our zone substation to reduce overall voltage levels (known as transformer tap changes).
We estimate that as a result of this work, approximately 50,000 current or potential solar customers within the hotspot locations and surrounding regions will be able to get more value from their solar systems.
By July, we expect an increase in both the number of existing solar customers able to export 5kW unconstrained and in the rate of export pre-approvals for new solar installations.
Our works and reducing impacts
We will notify local residents and businesses of our works if there are direct impacts to access or changed road conditions. Minimising disruptions as much as possible is a big priority for us and we will keep you updated as our works progress.
Thinking of installing solar?
Head to our Liney Lessons page for all of the information you need, including a handy solar power check list.