The NSW solar bonus will end: What to do before the money stops flowing

The solar gold rush of 2010 allowed early solar adaptors to lock in a 60 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) feed in tariff that was the highest in Australia. However, this gravy train has a use by date – 31st December 2016.
When everyone is bringing in the New Year in a frenzy of collective inebriation, tears will be shed beneath star-reflecting photovoltaic glass as the delight of never paying for electricity explodes and burns with the bright fireworks piercing the night sky.
By then the networks will have hatched their new gold-plated egg and Network Demand Charges will rise from the shells to attack the slim margins enjoyed by grid connected solar, creating a virtual Armageddon for solar bonus addicts left holding a hefty new bill. If you are one of those lucky bastards who made a motza out of boldly entering a new solar world, you may need to pause in your euphoria for a moment and consider the options.
Milk the Magic Moo Cow until Your Hands Hurt!
Getting twice as much for selling electricity created out of thin air as you are paying for it from the coal barons running the country, is one of the last rorts left for true believers. Keep it up as long as you can! Make sure your panels are squeaky clean and kicking out electrons like thoroughbreds on Melbourne Cup Day. One faulty panel can bring the whole array down, so check the average daily solar production on your bill and make sure it measures up. 1kW of solar should crank out about 3.9 – 4.2 kWh per day. If your equipment is drooping you may need to spark up some electro-virility with the aid of a professional clean and service.
While the solar technician is shining your glass, don’t be tempted to whack some more panels on the roof while they are up there. If the Network spooks see a sudden rise in your output, it could result in a charge of treason, and, if caught, you will be exiled from the Solar Bonus Club as quickly as if you changed the name on your bill, or worse!
You have a vice-regent given right to exploit the system until the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve next year, so by god, ensure you run hard until the end. We have clever ways to ensure you never miss a beat of the sun’s golden heart and will help you prepare for the fast switcheroo while everyone else is trying to find a solar guy that will pick up the phone.
What Once Was Friend is Now Your Enemy
The lovely shining jewel in your cabinet, the Gross Export Meter, will stop counting electrons for you and begin giving them all away for free! Before you take a sledge hammer to the traitor in your midst, (remembering electrocution is a pretty dumb way to die), let me introduce your new friend, the Net Meter. A Net Meter will count your kilowatts and also allow you to use your own power for free. You will need one of these and don’t expect to snap your fingers in a hung-over haze on New Year ’s Day and expect one to magically appear. They will be twice the usual price and the only electricians sanctioned to install them will be auctioning their services to the highest bidder.
Welcome to the Age of Maximum Self Consumption
Your whole psychology is about to change. The days of gratitude for benevolence are sadly over. Time to get stingy, miserly and mean. Giving away your power for peanuts is ludicrous, particularly when you have to buy it back at five times the price!  You are now in economy class fighting for overhead locker space with all the other passengers and the ticket is no longer free. Watch yourself become like all the other solar peeps, grinding all the coffee beans in the house on sunny afternoons, because you would rather burn out a motor than give one extra electron to the evil, sucking grid – even if you hate drinking coffee!
 It’s All Mine and You Can’t Have It!
Since you led the photovoltaic charge and made a motza, you may as well graduate into the new solar elite and get your own battery bank. Instead of whinging about every kWh you are exporting you’ll be gloating about all the solar you save. You’ll have days when you don’t even need their coal tainted current as liquid sunshine flows magically into every appliance in your house.
For ultimate bragging rights you can go totally off grid. It will cost you dearly for all those extra solar panels and batteries, but it may be worth it to raise a permanent one finger salute to the evil empire. Imagine the bliss you will feel cutting the wires off your house and banishing the blood sucking mongrels to kingdom come. You can even take up sun worshipping as a religion on your next census form!
Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck
Let’s face it, if it doesn’t pay, you don’t want to play. Everyone has a little accountant’s voice in the back of their head, hardened by riding through hell hounded by rip off merchants, telling you to “tuck your ears in and ride faster”. The landscape is now littered with desperate solar merchants who have failed to adapt to a new world, grasping at copy cat “me too” slogans like politicians before an election. Who can you believe and trust to safely guide you onto the road to hybrid heaven?
Our Little Secret Weapon
This is it. An instant battery upgrade that plugs into any inverter. It can be installed in 2 hours. It takes solar from your roof and charges batteries instead of exporting, feeding saved power back at night. It is thousands of dollars cheaper than throwing out your existing inverter and replacing it with an off grid inverter and charge controller system.
If you use more kWh of power per day than you are exporting, you can set up a parallel solar system now, big enough to supply the difference. It will come with the vital Net Meter and, at the end of 2016, only a couple of cables need to be unplugged and plugged back in and “Whamo!” you are done and dusted. Your old solar system is now saving power by day and giving it back at night.
While your new solar power station feeds your need, reducing the spend on your existing bill, your old gross exporting mate will be chocking up the 60 cent bonus into fat cheques for you every quarter. You will be making more money straight away. Most systems net about 17-25% return and payback in 4-6 years.
If you have a larger power plant and more kWh in export than you are using, a partial install can be arranged prior to the end of 2016 so it is ready to go with just a simple switching of the wires. That will prepare your existing solar to turn into a hybrid power system instantly, once the tariff ends. It will be just like the opening of a James Bond movie when he drives the car off the cliff, jumps out and skydives into the plane!
Better Value for Those Who Move Quickly
We have become accustom to everything (except power bills) getting cheaper. Yet with the sliding Aussie dollar the price of solar technology is going up, not down. By moving early you will not only start producing more cash sooner, you will also pay less. If you are adding more panels, consider the precarious political situation and the possibility of no more solar rebates. Currently about 2/3 of the cost of solar panels is subsidised, and as we have seen, any government incentive can be taken away quickly without warning.
You also do not want to be stranded when the cash cow stops giving milk. Being prepared makes good sense and you can make more money by getting in early. Getting a Net Meter ready and installed is worth the effort and will save hundreds.
Find Out More…
Every situation is different. Your energy bill will tell us a lot about what you are doing and how you can benefit from migration to total energy self consumption. Send it to us and one of our energy consultants will provide a detailed plan for your successful transition. Call us on 02 66884480 or email
Our website is full of great information and plenty of “tell it the way it is” analysis of the pros and cons of the modern solar power landscape. Get informed and take back your power.
Vincent Selleck is director of SolarTek.


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