Revealed: Ausgrid’s strategy to keep solar customers confused

In order to help out people who are considering installing rooftop solar in Sydney, I took it upon myself to find out what people need to know if they want to install a system in the Ausgrid Electricity Network area. I did it for the benefit of humanity. Well, specifically for the benefit of people in the eastern half of Sydney, but if it results in more clean solar electricity being generated, then it will benefit all humanity.
ausgrid cycle

What I Wanted To Know

The first thing I did was check out the internet for information. Specifically, I was looking for answers to the following questions:
1. What is the maximum sized rooftop solar system people are allowed to install?
2. Does the maximum size vary depending upon if a household has single phase or 3 phase power?
3. Is the maximum size determined by the inverter, the total capacity of the solar panels, or both?
4. Are there any restrictions on rooftop solar besides size in the Ausgrid area?
5. When people get rooftop solar, how much will it cost to have the required import/export meter installed?

The Oddly Empty Internet

While I did find this lovely Ausgrid page with information about installing rooftop solar, somehow it managed to miss answering every single one of my questions.  What are the odds against that?  Talk about bad luck!
I  admit it seemed very odd the page didn’t even mention what sized system Ausgrid would allow people to install, but I figured that information must be on some other page. However, try as I might, I just couldn’t find the answers I sought on any of Ausgrid’s pages anywhere online.
Now maybe Ausgrid has supplied that information on the internet and I am just too dumb to find it, but if that is the case, then a great many people who are interested in getting rooftop solar won’t be able to find it either. A lot of them are pretty old and, like me, have lousy Goggle-fu.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to ask a young person to get the web engines on the intertubes to work properly for me.  Personally, I’ll be glad when this whole internet fad blows over.

Telephony To The Rescue!

But, none-the-less, I was undaunted! I screwed my courage to the sticking place, which didn’t hurt much, and decided to talk to someone on the telephone. We used to talk to people on the telephone all the time when I was younger. We’d put aside our newspapers, operate our phones with a big rotary dial, and afterwards we’d have a Bex and a nice lie down. Ah, those were the days.
So on the 3rd of May I rang Ausgrid and inquired if I could ask them some questions about getting rooftop solar installed. I was told that, no, they couldn’t help me.  Instead, I needed to talk to someone who as able to answer questions on that topic and to get one of those types of people on the other end of the line I should call between 9:00 am and 11:00 am.

Attempted Telephony Leads To Email Fail

So I  called at around 10:00 am on the 6th of May and I was told that, rather than give me the information over the phone, I would need to send them an email.
So, I sent an email and very quickly, within the hour, I received a reply which directed me to this page here which was exactly where I had started. There were a couple of other links that were also kindly provided, but they didn’t answer my questions either.
I sent off another email five days ago pointing out that my questions weren’t actually answered and I’ll sure they’ll be getting back to me any time now with the information I seek. If it takes them a little while to respond that’s perfectly understandable, as I am sure they are busy at Ausgrid distributing electricity to people and keeping all the electrons nice and shiny and crisp and not letting them get all fuzzy like they do when quantum physicists get their hands on them.

Ausgrid:  Working Hard!  Harder Than They Need To

It’s really a very big job to keep electricity distributed over such a large area. So I don’t understand why they don’t make their job easier and have specific information on their website that people need to know about installing solar power. For one thing, it would have saved me from having to ring them up, twice, and waste their time. And then there’s the answering of emails on top of that.
You’d think they’d want to avoid all that work, wouldn’t you? It’s like my old boss always used to tell me, “Work smarter, not harder!” Now personally I never liked that advice because to me it just sounded like discrimination against dumb people, but in this case, clearly giving people important basic information on their website seems the smart thing to do.

Sometimes I Think I’m Paranoid.  And So Does Everyone Else!

The way things are now people might assume that Ausgrid doesn’t want anyone to install solar and so, despite being the network operator and thus the very best and most obvious source, they refuse to provide even very basic information, such as what sized systems are permitted, in order to just make it that tiny little bit harder to get solar installed. But that’s obviously crazy talk. Who would be so petty?  I’m sure it’s just an oversight that’s probably the result of overwork.

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