Rooftop solar

At CitiPower and Powercor we manage your local electricity network – moving power to and from homes – so it’s part of our job to help households export their excess solar power back into our network.

If you’re exploring rooftop solar for your home, you’ll hear from us early in your project as we need to review and approve how much you can export. This helps us know how much power is flowing through our network at all times to provide a reliable service – it’s a fine art balancing power flowing from both large-scale generators and private solar systems.

Choosing the right solar system for your home is no easy feat. We want to provide you with some essential knowledge before you decide what you want and who will install it, so you can get the most from your system now and in the future.

Getting value from your solar

Getting the most value out of your solar system is all about self-consumption – when you use electrical appliances throughout the day while your solar is generating energy.

Exporting excess power and getting some money for it via feed-in-tariffs can be a bonus but these days the feed-in-tariff you’re likely to receive from your retailer is nothing in comparison to the price you’ll pay them in the evenings to buy back electricity from the grid.

If you can shift some of your evening power use into the daylight hours – you’ll benefit from huge savings. There’s now lots of technology that can help you set appliances to run throughout the day so you can get the most value from your solar investment.

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to solar and a larger system won’t necessarily give you a better return. Make sure you are asking the right questions of your installer and retailer to help you save time and money, and so you get the full benefits of your investment in the long run.

Your steps to solar success

1. Choose an accredited installer

Make sure your installer is accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) to ensure they comply to service standards.

2. Check you have export pre-approval

The last thing you want is to find out is that you can’t export as much power as your installer may have advised, leaving you with a system that is bigger than you need.

Before signing a contract to purchase a system, make sure your installer has lodged a solar pre-approval application with us through our eConnect portal.

Your installer should include your contact details on the application, so you’ll be notified as soon as the installer has made the application, and be notified of the result.

We aim to enable most customers to export the amount of excess solar they are looking for. But sometimes, this is not possible depending on the capacity of the network in your neighbourhood. It doesn’t stop you from installing solar for your own self-consumption. But it might make a difference to the size of the system you contract.

3. Make sure you have the right inverter with the right settings

Once your system has been installed, you’ll need to make sure your installer has set your smart inverter setting to Australia A.

This setting ensures your system doesn’t trip off when the power voltage fluctuates. Otherwise, when trips happen, your system will no longer generate power for your home or for export.

These are all things your solar installer should do. If your installer is not sure about this, then they can find out more here.

4. Review your contract

Your installer will submit a contract with us on your behalf letting us know your system is installed and has the right smart inverter settings working.

This contract is called the Model Standing Offer and essentially registers your solar connection with us.  If we don’t know it’s connected, then you won’t be able to receive the feed-in tariffs you may be expecting and we won’t be able to tell if there are issues with your connection.

5. Maintain your solar panels

Once your system is installed, there are two main things you’ll need to do each year to maintain your solar panels and make sure they are working efficiently.

  • Keep them clean.  Any build-up of dirt and grime should be removed.
  • Follow the regular maintenance schedule that your installer will provide to make sure everything is operating correctly and safely.

To help you on your journey

We are members of the Clean Energy Council which is a not-for-profit organisation that represents and works with Australia’s leading renewable energy and energy storage businesses as well as rooftop solar installers to further develop clean energy in Australia.

They have a  range of information available for consumers  about buying solar including useful guides and tools to finding a solar retailer or installer in your area.

Other useful information is available through:

Solar tariff information

A solar feed-in tariff is a rate paid to customers who put electricity back into the grid. Households and small businesses that generate electricity using solar panels, wind turbines, or other small-scale generators, can feed back any unused electricity into the electricity grid for other customers to use. In exchange, the customer receives a small rebate on their bill for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they export.

There are a number of different solar tariffs including premium feed-in and current feed-in tariffs.

Premium Feed-in Tariff

The Victorian Premium Feed-in Tariff (PFiT) is a jurisdictional scheme funded by electricity networks. PFiT started in November 2009 and is closed to new applicants. Existing customers may remain on PFiT until the scheme is closed in November 2024. The maximum installed capacity for PFiT customers is 5kW and eligible customers will receive a minimum of 60 cents per kWh for their exports.

Current Feed-in Tariff 

The Victorian feed-in tariff scheme commenced in 2013 and the minimum feed-in rate was revised in July 2017. The revised rate considers the following factors:

  • wholesale electricity market prices
  • distribution and transmission losses avoided by the supply of smale scale renewable energy generation electricity and;
  • avoided social costs of carbon and the avoided human health costs attributable to a reduction in air pollution

For further information regarding eligibility and the current feed-in rate please refer to energy.vic.gov.au

What happens if a customer switches electricity retailer, moves house or increases their installed solar capacity?

PFiT customers can switch electricity retailers and continue to receive their payments. Customers should check with their retailer prior to switching if there are any exit fees under their existing contract.

Any house signed up to PFiT will remain eligible for the scheme regardless of whether the house is sold and new residents move in. If a customer increases their solar capacity they will no longer be eligible for PFiT payments.

Closed Feed-in Tariffs

Standard Feed-in Tarrif (SFiT) and Transitional Feed-in Tariff (TFiT) were closed in December 2016.

Distribution Code requirements

The distribution code regulates distributing and connecting electricity to customers. It also covers embedded generating units, such as solar panels and transferring electricity between distribution systems. Under the Electricity Distribution Code owners of small embedded generators must comply with the code under its generation license.

  • Ensure that your generating source is capable of continuous uninterrupted operation at the system frequency of 50 Hz (or within any allowable variation that applies).
  • Ensure that your generating source and any associated equipment that is connected to the electricity network complies with Victoria’s Electricity Distribution Code, the Electricity Safety Act 1998 and all relevant Australian Standards and is maintained in a safe condition.
  • Ensure that your generating source’s electrical protection device meets the requirements of our electricity distribution system at all times. All grid interactive solar inverters which are connected to the Powercor network have to comply with AS4777 Australian Standard.

To help you understand and meet these obligations, we recommend the Clean Energy Council’s guide to solar and battery storage for consumers.

The safety of the community and our employees is our top priority. Therefore we may disconnect or ask you to disconnect your generating source if it is not safe, interferes with the local network or does not comply with the regulatory requirements referred to above.

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