Can I upgrade my solar power system?

Premium Feed-in Tariff (PFIT) and Transitional Feed-in Tariff (TFIT):

No. Existing customers under the PFIT or TFIT scheme will forfeit their access to their respective schemes if they add generating capacity to their solar system through additional panels. The capacity of the panels must remain the same or less than what they were before the scheme closed to new applicants.

This includes customers with an oversized inverter. These customers may not add additional panels to the solar PV system in order to reach the capacity of the inverter.

If customers do, however, still wish to add panels to their original generating capacity they will be able to move to the new feed-in tariff, set at a minimum of 8 cents per kilowatt hour for 2013.

Standard Feed-in Tariff (SFIT):

If you wish to add generating capacity to your renewable energy system, you will need to discuss this with your electricity retailer. Your existing agreement is likely to include terms and conditions relating to the generating capacity of your renewable energy system.

If you are considering installing a different type of renewable energy system to the type you already have installed, you should contact your retailer to discuss your options.

If I move out of my residence, can I take my system with me and claim the Premium, Transitional or Standard Feed-in Tariff?

No. The Premium, Transitional and Standard Feed-in Tariff schemes are linked to the property where the system was installed. You cannot move the system to a new address and continue to access the respective scheme.

However, if the system remains on the property, under the Premium and Transitional schemes the new owners or tenants would be eligible to access the same scheme as the previous owners. You will not be able to retain the “one-for-one” Standard Feed-in Tariff if you change address. See the next question for further information.

What happens if I move into a house with solar panels or a renewable energy system which was previously signed up to the Premium, Transitional or Standard Feed-in Tariff? Will I be able to access the scheme?

Premium and Transitional Feed-in Tariffs:

Yes, you will be able to arrange with a retailer to receive the PFIT or TFIT if you move into a property already accessing the scheme, as long as you do not increase the generating capacity of the existing system. If you add solar panels to the existing system you will forfeit your access to the scheme.

Both of these schemes are linked to the property where the system was installed when the previous owners or tenants applied for the scheme. This means that any house that is signed up for the PFIT or TFIT scheme can continue to access the respective rate until the end date of the scheme, provided other eligibility criteria are maintained. The PFIT ends on 1 November 2024 and the TFIT ends on 31 December 2016.

Standard Feed-in Tariff:

No, you will not be eligible to access the ‘one-for-one’ rate under the Standard Feed-in Tariff if you move into a property already accessing the scheme. The ‘one-for-one’ rate under the Standard Feed-in Tariff is a negotiated agreement between the customer and the retailer, which relates only to that particular customer and the property where the renewable energy system was installed when the agreement was entered into. So if you move into a house which was previously signed up to the Standard Feed-in Tariff, you will not be eligible for the scheme.

Can I change retailers?

Premium and Transitional Feed-in Tariff:

Yes, if you wish to change retailers, you are able to arrange access to the respective scheme with your new retailer. However, make sure you research the rates and other terms and conditions offered by other electricity retailers prior to changing. Some retailers will offer a “top up” over and above the regulated minimum feed-in tariff rate.  Not all retailers offer a “top up” or the same “top up”.  It is recommended that you consider the whole package being offered by the retailer, including supply rates, rather than just whether a “top up” rate is available to ensure you make the best choice for your circumstances.

You should also note that only retailers with more than 5,000 customers are required to offer the Premium Feed-in Tariff (PFIT) and Transitional Feed-in Tariff (TFIT), although retailers with fewer than 5,000 customers may choose to offer these rates.

Under the PFIT, retailers must offer a minimum of 60 cents per kilowatt hour for excess electricity exported into the grid.

Under the TFIT, retailers must offer a minimum of 25 cents per kilowatt hour for excess electricity exported into the grid.

Standard Feed-in Tariff:

No. The ‘one-for-one’ rate under the Standard Feed-in Tariff is a negotiated agreement between the customer and the retailer. Now that the scheme is closed to new applicants, retailers will no longer be offering this rate to new customers.

Therefore, if you are receiving the SFIT and decide to change retailers the existing feed-in tariff contract will end and you will be ineligible to receive the ‘one-for-one’ Standard Feed-in Tariff. You may be eligible to receive the Feed-in Tariff for new applicants set at a minimum of 8 cents per kilowatt hour for 2013.

Can I put in a dedicated load if I am receiving the PFIT / TFIT / SFIT?

A dedicated load is metered separately to the household’s general usage. So the electricity generated by your solar PV or other renewable energy facility is not offset against the dedicated usage, only your general household usage. Therefore, your energy consumption and generation would not be net metered and all Victorian feed-in tariff schemes require net metering. This means that electricity consumption in the household must be offset against all solar PV or renewable energy generation. This can be compared with gross metering where generation from the panels does not offset your own usage.  Customers are usually better off financially under net metering arrangements as offsetting your own use has the greatest value.

Speak to your retailer if you are considering installing a dedicated load. There may be other options available to you.

What happens if my property with PFIT / TFIT / SFIT is no longer my primary place of residence?

Premium and Transitional Feed-in Tariffs:

You will no longer be eligible for the scheme. When these schemes were open to new customers, they were only available to residential consumers who applied for their primary place of residence. If the property is no longer your primary place of residence, you will forfeit your access to the scheme.
If you have moved house, the new owners of the property can access the respective scheme by signing a new contract with their retailer.

If you have tenants moving into this property, they will be able to access the respective scheme.

You should discuss your options with your electricity retailer.

Standard Feed-in Tariff:

You should discuss this with your retailer as your feed-in tariff and usage rates may be adjusted according to your existing agreement.

Can I replace different components of my system?

Yes. If there is a fault or any damage to the parts associated with your solar system, it is important that you organise for the equipment to be replaced by a licensed electrical contractor.  This will ensure that the required paperwork to maintain your eligibility under the scheme is completed and will also ensure the safety of your system.

If you have an issue with your electricity meter, you should contact your electricity retailer as this equipment is part of the network infrastructure and should be replaced by the distribution business for your area.

Please note

Premium and Transitional Feed-in Tariffs:

It is important that you do not increase the generating capacity of your existing system otherwise you will forfeit your access to the scheme.

Standard Feed-in Tariff:

If your system generating capacity may increase with the replacement of any components, please discuss this with your retailer to ensure you do not lose your eligibility under the scheme.

What if I am renovating my house / demolishing my house / building a new house on my property? Can I continue to access the same scheme?

Generally, this will be allowed, but there are some restrictions and you will need to discuss your circumstances with your electricity retailer. Your retailer will be able to advise you on the best approach according to your situation.

It is recommended you place your panels into storage for the duration of the work being completed at your property to prevent any damage to your solar or other renewable energy system and to ensure that net metering arrangements continue at your property. If your system is attached to the house and continues to operate whilst it is not your primary place of residence (for instance, you are not staying in the house during the work) you may forfeit your access to the PFIT or TFIT scheme.

You also cannot move your system to a new property and reclaim the PFIT, TFIT or SFIT. This is because the feed-in tariffs are linked to the property rather than the system.

If you are replacing any equipment, you must ensure that the system’s generating capacity after the building work is complete remains is not higher than when you registered for the Premium or Transitional scheme. If your system’s generating capacity increases, you will forfeit your access to these schemes.

Your feed-in tariff relies on your electricity meter. If this meter is damaged during the building work and a new meter is required you will still retain access to the relevant scheme. Contact your electricity retailer to discuss your arrangements and to ensure you do not forfeit your access to the scheme.

Please ensure that the necessary reinstallation work is completed by a licensed electrical contractor. This will ensure that the required paperwork to maintain your eligibility under the scheme is completed and will also ensure the safety of your system.

Can I remain on my existing feed-in tariff scheme if my house burns down and I want to replace the solar panels?

Yes. This is assuming that you had originally qualified for the feed-in scheme before its relevant closure date, your new house at the same property is still your primary place of residence (for PFIT and TFIT), you maintain net metering arrangements, and you do not increase the capacity of your original solar panels.

I am receiving the Premium, Transitional or Standard Feed-in Tariff at my property. Can I also claim the feed-in tariff of a minimum of 8 cents at the same property?

If you are installing a new solar or other type of renewable energy system to access the current feed-in rate, you need to ensure that your existing system and the new system are separately metered (i.e. the system receiving PFIT, TFIT or “one-for-one” SFIT continues to be net metered). This includes if you are installing a new system on the same property. You should discuss your plans with your electricity retailer.

If you are accessing the PFIT, TFIT or SFIT you cannot move your existing system from your current property where you are receiving credits for the excess electricity you generate.

Please note

Premium or Transitional Feed-in Tariff:

For the system you are receiving the rate for, you must ensure this continues to be your primary place of residence.

You cannot add generating capacity to your existing system if you are already accessing the transitional or premium scheme.

Standard Feed-in Tariff:

If you wish to add generating capacity to your system, you will need to discuss this with your electricity retailer. The only size restriction for customers receiving the standard rate is that the system must be less than 100 kilowatts in generating capacity. Your existing agreement is likely to include terms and conditions relating to the generating capacity of your renewable energy system. You should also check with your electricity distributor if they have any pre-approval checks you will need to undertake before considering upgrading your system size.

(Source Victorian Department of Primary Industries)

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