The Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCoSA) has warned solar customers in the state to check the fine print in any deals being offered by electricity companies.
The regulator is concerned that energy retailers are luring customers in with generous feed-in tariffs, but reversing the benefits by levying additional fees and charges elsewhere, according to a report in the Adelaide Advertiser.
ESCoSA chief executive Adam Wilson said: “People may not realise that they are being offered a higher tariff for their solar, and they think “I like that’, but then they are getting a higher user charge, which is not so good.”
“We want to get some opinions on this, but we don’t have a fixed view yet. We want to make sure there is no untoward behaviour going on.
“It has been suggested to us by customers that they are not getting the best deal they can, that they can’t get the better usage charge as someone else because they have got solar and the retailer has to pay the tariff.”
ESCoSA is currently reviewing whether it should continue to set a minimum regulated retailer-paid feed-in tariff (R-FiT), which must be paid to residential and small business customers with solar PV systems. The South Australian electricity market was deregulated in February 2013, but the R-FiT was left as a regulated component within a deregulated market. It is currently set at 6.8c/kWh, but could be dropped if ESCoSA determines it is not necessary or appropriate.
“We are asking if having the commission fix a minimum rate is delivering the best deal for customers,” Mr Wilson told the Advertiser.
“Clearly, if removing the minimum would result in worse outcomes for customers we wouldn’t do that and would retain the current scheme.
“Even if we were to remove the price, we would always monitor the market and retain the right to step back in at any time if needed.”
ESCoSA previously proposed deregulating the R-FiT in 2013, but backed down in the face of industry opposition.
The commission has commenced its review with the release of an Issues Paper, which seeks comments from interested parties on competition issues and the commission’s proposed methodology.
Submissions must be made by close of business on Friday, 22 April. The commission will release its draft decision on the R-FiT in mid-June.