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Solar households shop around for best deal ahead of January tariff roll-back

Solar households, keen to avoid a spike in their power bills, following the end of the state’s generous solar feed-in tariffs have been shopping for more than Christmas presents over recent months.

Energy expert iSelect has experienced an almost 50 per cent jump in enquiries from New South Wales solar customers seeking the best tariffs available to them, ahead of the roll-back of the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme on 1 January.

The scheme’s end means households which currently receive 60c per kWh for their rooftop generated solar energy may see this tariff drop as low as 5c per kWh.

As a result, approximately 146,000 solar powered households across the state may be faced with a nasty surprise in the mail when their electricity bills start arriving next month.

iSelect spokesperson Laura Crowden is encouraging NSW residents who have not (or barely) paid electricity bills in recent times to act swiftly to ensure they are on the most cost effective plan with the most generous feed-in tariff.

"With the solar bonus scheme ending, it’s important that solar customers take the time to review their current energy plan and feed-in tariff and make sure it is still offering good value,” Ms Crowden said.

“Feed-in tariffs can vary significantly between retailers so it’s worth comparing both the plan and the tariff you will receive.”

She added customers need to remember the plan with the highest feed-in tariff isn’t necessarily the best value option.

“While the feed-in tariff is important, it is only one component of your bill.  Make sure you look at the rate you’ll pay for any electricity you consume off the grid, and also take into account any fixed network charges and discounts when choosing the best value plan.” 

Ms Crowden added many solar households have adopted a 'set-and-forget' mindset when it comes to energy and haven't reviewed their plan in years.

“It’s imperative that affected NSW residents get on the front foot and use this announcement as an impetus to review their current energy contract… you may not be able to offset the tariff reduction but you can limit the damage.”

Solar customers are also advised to review their energy consumption patterns.

“Use your energy hungry appliances – such as dishwashers, washing machines and dryers – during the day when you are using the solar energy you are producing yourself, rather than at night when you are relying on energy bought off the grid,” Ms Crowden explained.

iSelect’s top 5 tips for finding the best solar deal

  • Save money with the best FIT: Feed-in tariffs can vary significantly between retailers so it’s worth comparing both the plan and the FIT you will receive.
  • Flexible payment options: Pay your bills weekly, fortnightly or monthly, or sign up for bill smoothing which will divide your annual usage into even monthly installments, avoiding bill shock.
  • Be wary of pay on time discounts: Paying on time could save you around 30% but if you often pay your bills late, you could end up paying a lot more than you expected.
  • Look out for special offers: Increased competition means some retailers are offering generous introductory offers or rebates to entice new customers such as credit towards your account.
  • Shop around: Use increased energy competition to your advantage by comparing current offers. Call an energy comparison service like iSelect and make sure you have a copy of your latest bill handy.

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