OPINION

Aussie homeowners will not accept proposed 'sun tax'

Aussie homeowners will not accept proposed 'sun tax'

Solar owners are furious.

From Bendigo to Hervey Bay, I've been speaking with Australians who are outraged by a new proposal to charge them a fee when they export excess clean electricity, generated from their solar systems into the grid.

Many of these homeowners and small business operators were encouraged by governments to install panels in the first place, doing so in good faith to slash their bills and do their bit for the environment.

The last thing they expected was to be slugged with a new charge for producing cheap, clean energy.

The change put forward by the Australian Energy Market Commission would allow "poles and wires" companies to charge solar owners for exporting excess energy into the grid.

It says it's necessary because solar is causing "traffic jams" in the grid at certain times of the year.

Regional and outer suburban areas in particular will be affected by this new charge, because that's where rooftop solar has been installed in droves.

Areas like the Adelaide Plains in South Australia, Somerset in Queensland and Narrabri in New South Wales have the highest density of solar households, with more than 50 per cent of standalone homes producing their own clean energy.

In response to this proposed "sun tax", my team and I at Solar Citizens surveyed more than 1300 rooftop solar owners in all states and territories except Western Australia and the Northern Territory -the two jurisdictions not affected by this rule change - to understand their response.

Unsurprisingly, 95 per cent said they didn't support the proposal.

But concerningly, 63 per cent said they'd be more likely to disconnect from the grid completely, and use only their own power, if the sun tax is implemented, leading to a possible electricity network "death spiral".

A "death spiral" is triggered when more and more households disconnect from the grid, which results in higher network charges for remaining customers.

This price hike drives more households to leave, causing the spiral to continue.

This is a devastating outcome that will drive up electricity prices.

According to our survey, solar owners are so riled up that 65 per cent would consider changing their vote, depending on the actions taken by their state government in response to the proposal.

The rapid adoption of rooftop solar represents a huge shift towards an energy democracy.

If millions of solar owners are opposed to this rule change, state governments and the AEMC better listen.

Ellen Roberts is national director of community organisation Solar Citizens, which supports solar users.

This story Aussie homeowners will not accept proposed 'sun tax' first appeared on The Canberra Times.