Solar users in South Australia have avoided extra network charges thanks to intervention by the Australian Energy Regulator.

Under an SA Power Networks proposal, those who installed solar power would be charged a different rate to other users.

The AER rejected the proposal last year and that decision was supported by the Federal Court in December 2015.

Clean Energy Council policy manager Darren Gladman said the AER decision was welcome news for solar customers and businesses in South Australia.

“If the SA Power Networks proposal was successful, it would send a message that no matter what action people take to reduce their bills, they’ll get stung another way. Effectively: ‘You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.’

“If this push was successful, it would have opened the door for similar, and possibly much larger, charges by operators in other states. We believed the proposal was unfair and campaigned strongly against it. We are pleased the AER agreed with our position.”

Gladman says the Clean Energy Council will continue to work with SA Power Networks to support better ways of introducing demand-based tariffs that don’t discriminate against owners of solar, storage or smart meters.

“More than 1.5 million homes across the country have now installed solar power. This is a huge political constituency, and they won’t stand for being treated like mugs,” he said.

“Just about everyone is concerned about the cost of power right now. We should not be penalising people who want to go solar just because they aren’t paying as much to the operators of the power networks as they used to.”