The Victorian Government is making it easier for small-scale energy generators, including households with rooftop solar panels, to connect to the electricity grid.
Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio introduced the National Electricity (Victoria) Further Amendment Bill 2015, which would switch Victoria to national arrangements for connection and will require electricity distributors to follow tighter timeframes when they get a connection request.
Under the bill, distributors must have a basic contract available to small customers and generators who want to connect to the grid. Any customer who asks to connect must get a firm connection offer within 10 business days. For solar customers, this will reduce connection waiting times by up to 55 business days.
If the connection process is complex, distributors have to provide clear information on the process to customers and still have to operate within a time limit.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the bill is part of a mandate to put the interests of Victorian consumers front and centre of energy retail policy.
“The bill supports the Andrews Labor Government’s election commitment to provide fairer access to the grid for small customers who are providing renewable energy.
“We’re delivering on our promise to protect the interests of Victorian energy consumers and ensure greater transparency in the market so consumers can make informed decisions.”
The new arrangements are supported by electricity distributors and representatives of small-scale renewable energy proponents, including the Clean Energy Council (CEC).
CEC Network Specialise Tom Butler congratulated the Victorian Government on introducing a “common sense solution” to the lags in grid connection for solar customers.
“Nationally more than 1.5 million solar power systems have been installed, but frustrations remain for many new customers when dealing with electricity distribution businesses, including long wait times for grid connection,” Mr Butler said.
“Along with a dispute resolution and tighter regulation of terms and conditions, these are the kinds of reforms that are needed to make it easier for customers to take back control of their energy use through new technology such as solar power,” he added.