Energy Australia, the largest distributor in NSW, said it would provide the new meters free but people would not start receiving their solar tariff money until they are installed at the customer’s expense.
”You need the gross meter to be paid under the gross system,” a spokesman, Anthony O’Brien, said. ”However, we don’t anticipate that anyone will be in that scenario as long as they take the right steps to talk to a licensed electrician and have the meter installed.”
The new metering equipment had to be imported, leading to the delay.
“We will have meters that have been configured for the gross payment in stock from mid- to late February,” Mr O’Brien said. “As soon as customers have those meters installed we will be able to pay them 60 cents gross from that date. We’ve been working hard to whittle the transitional time down to enable the customer to get the maximum benefit.”
Many solar panel customers have contacted the Herald saying that the delay in switching to the gross tariff is costing them money. “I tried in December to get a meter so I could start measuring it, but the people in the industry knew nothing about it,” said Michael Mobbs, who has a six kilowatt solar panel system fitted on his Chippendale home.
“I’ve been to a couple of energy providers and nobody can get any meters – apparently they’re expected some time before June.”
Mr Mobbs has a two-way meter, allowing him to take advantage of the transitional net tariff, but has calculated – based on his power consumption – that he will lose $385 in the transitional period before July, not including the cost of getting the meter installed to measure the gross tariff.
Solar panel installation companies the Herald spoke to said people were holding off from investing in rooftop panels until after July.
The NSW Greens said the scheme should have featured gross tariff payments from the January 1 start date.
The Greens MP, John Kaye, said the first six months of the NSW Government’s Solar Bonus Scheme will mean solar households will be stuck on a far lower-paying tariff plan.
“The NSW Government’s incompetence will cost the renewable energy sector as households delay taking up the scheme until the full gross tariff starts in July.”
The Government introduced the gross feed-in tariff scheme in November, saying it could mean households earn up to $500 a year from the renewable power they generate.
The NSW Government said this month that it would move to close a loophole by which electricity utilities could keep crediting customers’ bills, until they changed energy providers, instead of paying them in cash.