Update on 44c FiT rule changes
On 15 February 2018, the Queensland Parliament re-introduced a Bill to change the Electricity Act 1994 (Qld). This Bill provides the industry with clearer rules about adding PV panels, generating systems and/or energy storage devices (such as batteries), to PV systems that already qualify for the 44 cents/kWh Feed-in Tariff (44c FiT) without forfeiting this premium tariff.
If the Bill is passed in its current format, 15 February 2018 will be the date that the changes come into effect rather than the previously advised date of 15 June 2017.
Therefore, if a customer with a PV system that qualifies for the 44c FiT does any of the following after 15 February 2018, they may forfeit eligibility for the 44c FiT (subject to some transitional provisions described later in this Update):
Until the Bill is passed, if we receive an application for an array upgrade on a 44c FiT-eligible PV system that will create a total array capacity exceeding the rated AC power capacity of the existing inverter/s, our Solar Team will contact the applicant to confirm their intent. The applicant can then choose to:
Remember that under the energy legislation and our connection contracts, you must obtain our consent before making modifications to a generating system (including, but not limited to, increasing array or inverter capacity and changing export limitation settings). This consent can be requested by lodging a network connection application through our Electrical Partners Portal.
If a customer entered into a contract to purchase additional panels that take the total array capacity above the inverter capacity before 15 February 2018, those panels can still be installed without forfeiting the 44c FiT if:
We understand that one or more panels in an array may need replacement under warranty. These rule changes have implications for the customer’s 44c FiT eligibility where the array with failed panels is already the same or a higher capacity as the connected inverter(s). We also understand that the existing panel wattage cannot always be matched exactly due to discontinued panel models, leaving only higher-wattage panels available.
We have worked with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to provide the following guidance:
Battery energy storage systems
The changed rules are designed to allow customers on the 44c FiT to install a battery system if they wish, without forfeiting the 44c FiT. However, it is important to note that the system cannot be programmed in such a way that could result in the battery discharging while the PV system is operating or more electricity being exported than would otherwise be possible.
Applicants should attach a schematic diagram to any application to add batteries to a 44c FiT-eligible PV system, including a description of the battery charging/discharging mode, demonstrating compliance with these requirements. Applications to add a battery system to a 44c FiT-eligible PV system are being processed on the understanding that the programming will comply with the changed rules.
Please note we use automated meter data filters to identify sudden increases in exported electricity volumes. If we investigate and identify a battery system that is not compliant, the 44c FiT will be forfeited. The installer may also be referred to the Clean Energy Council.
Additional generating systems
The Bill clarifies, rather than changes, the current policy about adding additional generating systems to 44c FiT-eligible PV systems. If any type of generating system is added to the same tariff circuit and operates at the same time as the qualifying PV system (except during a network outage) or is able to export to the grid, eligibility for the 44c FiT will be forfeited.
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