The Solar Bonus Scheme (the Scheme) provides a feed-in tariff for eligible customers with small solar or wind generators that  are connected to the grid. The Scheme commenced on 1 January 2010 and operates  until 31 December 2016.

The Regulatory framework of the Scheme is set out in the Electricity Supply Act 1995 and the Electricity Supply (General) Regulation 2001 available at www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.

The Scheme is closed to new applicants. Customers who applied to join the Scheme by midnight 28 April 2011 were able to proceed with their connection until 30 June 2012 in order to receive Scheme payments. Systems connected from 1 July 2012 are not eligible to receive Scheme tariff payments.

Each customer has the responsibility for ensuring that their renewable energy generator installation meets all requirements of the Solar Bonus Scheme including complying with the metering and connection requirements of their Distribution Network Services Business as well as the strict rules governing eligibility for the higher (60 cent) tariff  rate.

Note: To have been eligible for the Scheme your eligible generator must have been connected to the electricity network by 30  June 2012. If your generator was connected after this date you will not be eligible for Scheme tariff payments. The date is fixed and no exceptions or exemptions apply.

Changes to the funding arrangements of the former Government's Solar Bonus Scheme (which required energy retailers to contribute to the scheme costs) have helped reduce the cost of the Scheme.

Changes recommended by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) have been in force since 1 July 2012 and see the profits made by energy retailers returned to fund the Scheme.

In March 2012 IPART released a report that found energy retailers received a financial gain from solar customers. Later in the year IPART quantified that gain at 7.7 cents/kilowatt hour for electricity generated by solar systems. IPART will review the amount annually to determine what the retailer contribution will be in paying off the scheme.

What happens after the Solar Bonus Scheme ends on 31 December 2016?

The Solar Bonus Scheme is legislated to end on 31 December 2016. This date has not changed. Customers will continue to receive Scheme tariff payments until 31 December 2016, provided they remain eligible.

Solar Bonus Scheme customers will not receive Scheme payments for generation that occurs after 31 December 2016. However, customers may still benefit financially from having a small scale solar generator connected to the grid. This benefit is in the form of displacing consumption of retail priced electricity via net metering and the possibility of receiving a retail offer feed-in tariff.

Customers receiving the 60 cent tariff

Customers who receive the 60 cent Scheme tariff who have a gross meter may wish to consider changing to a net meter as the Scheme draws to an end. Under net metering, electricity from a customer's generation is first used to meet any consumption that takes place at the time of the generation. This means that, for each kilowatt (kWh) a customer consumes of their own generation, they save the retail price that would otherwise be paid for that consumption. That would be financially advantageous when the feed-in tariff no longer exceeds the retail price of day time electricity.

Customers receiving the 20 cent tariff

Most customers who receive the 20c tariff have net meters because the retail price of their day time electricity use is likely to exceed the 20c/kWh feed-in tariff rate. 

I wish to add to the generating capacity of my solar PV system, what are my options?

I am a 60 cent Solar Bonus Scheme customer. I wish to expand the generating capacity of my solar system. What are my options? 

NSW Solar Bonus Scheme customers receiving the 60 cents per kilowatt hour tariff who increase their Scheme generator's capacity will move to the 20 cents per kilowatt hour tariff unless the components (for the expansion) were purchased on or before 27 October 2010. 

The customer will remain eligible for the 20 cent tariff provided the system does not exceed 10 kilowatts (kW) of generation capacity. 

Alternatively, Solar Bonus Scheme customers who receive the 60 cents per kilowatt hour tariff may expand their overall generating capacity and retain the 60 cents tariff for their Scheme generator if the additional capacity is from a separately metered non-Scheme generator. No Scheme payments are available for the non-Scheme generator. Customers should check what feed-in tariffs are available and confirm with their preferred retailer whether they will pay a non-Scheme tariff in addition to the Scheme tariff.

Customers are obliged to notify their distribution network service provider (DNSP) of any change to their generator that would affect their receipt of Scheme payments. Fines and penalties of up to $110,000 may apply for failure to notify. 

The connection must be made in accordance with directions provided by the DNSP. The Scheme generator will need to be gross metered and the non-Scheme generator will need to be net metered. 

Customers should consider how the expansion of their solar PV system will affect Scheme tariff payments and other benefits before deciding to expand the generating capacity of their solar PV system. 

Customers are advised to check with their DNSP that their proposed total generating capacity is permitted before committing to purchasing additional generation capacity. See FAQ 28 for contact details. 

I am a 20 cent Solar Bonus Scheme customer. I wish to expand the generating capacity of my solar system. What are my options?

NSW Solar Bonus Scheme customers receiving the 20 cents per kilowatt hour tariff may increase their Scheme generator's capacity with the consent of their distribution network service provider (DNSP). 

Customers may connect up to a total of 10 kilowatts (kW) of generation capacity to the network in accordance with directions provided by their DNSP and remain eligible for the 20 cent tariff. Customers should check what feed-in tariffs are available and confirm with their preferred retailer whether they will pay a non-Scheme tariff in addition to the Scheme tariff.

Alternatively, customers who receive the 20 cent per kilowatt hour tariff may expand their overall generating capacity beyond 10 kW and retain the 20 cent tariff for their Scheme generator if a second separately metered non-Scheme generator is connected for capacity greater than 10kW. No Scheme payments are available for the non-Scheme generator. 

The connection must be made in accordance with directions provided by the DNSP. This includes the requirement that no more than one net meter is permitted. 

Customers should consider how the expansion of their solar PV system will affect Scheme tariff payments and other benefits before deciding to expand the generating capacity of their solar PV system.

Customers are advised to check with their DNSP that their proposed total generating capacity is permitted before committing to purchasing additional generation capacity. See FAQ 28 for contact details. 

Frequently asked questions

The Scheme is closed to new applications. Customers that applied to join the Scheme by 28 April 2011 will still be eligible to join the Scheme as long as the system is connected by 30 June 2012. This section only applies to customers who lodged an application to connect (either directly or through an agent) by 28 April 2011.

1. What if I have already joined the Scheme by 28 April 2011?

Customers whose systems were already connected to the grid by 28 April 2011 are not affected by closing of the Scheme to new applications. 

2. I applied to connect a generator by 28 April 2011 but did not connect straight away, am I eligble to join the Scheme? 

If you or your agent (e.g. an installer) lodged your application to connect by 28 April 2011, then you were still eligible to join the Scheme providing your system was connected by 30 June 2012. Your tariff rate depends on the date you purchased your solar system and the date you lodged your application. For further information on whether you are eligible for the 20 cent or the 60 cent tariff please see tariff payment eligibility information below.

3. I applied to join the Scheme by 28 April 2011 but my system was not be connected by 30 June 2012, what happens?

If your generator was not connected by 30 June 2012 you are not eligible for a tariff under the Solar Bonus Scheme. 

If you have not had the system installed, and depending on the terms and conditions of your contract, you may wish to seek a refund from your installer. Alternatively you may continue to connect this or another complying system to the grid and make savings on your electricity bill through net metering outside of the Scheme.  

The final date for connecting systems under the Solar Bonus Scheme is fixed - no extensions or exceptions apply.

Customers are still able to connect new systems to the electricity grid without participating in the Solar Bonus Scheme. Those customers may wish to install net metering, to reduce their electricity bills. A number of energy retailers also offer separate financial incentives for customers with solar panels.

4. I am having difficulty contacting my installer and do not think my system will be installed before 30 June 2012, what can I do? 

You may wish to seek independent legal advice. For general consumer protection information, complaints about workmanship and enquiries see the NSW Fair Trading website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20 and select "home building enquiries".

Customers are still able to connect new systems to the electricity grid without participating in the Solar Bonus Scheme. Those customers may wish to install net metering, to reduce their electricity bills. A number of energy retailers also offer separate financial incentives for customers with solar panels.

5. How do I find out if my application was received?

If you are unsure of the status of your application to connect you should contact your installer in the first instance.

6. I have purchased my generator/system but my application was not submitted by 28 April 2011, what can I do?

Depending on the terms and conditions of your contract you may be able to seek a refund from your installer or continue to connect your system to the grid and make savings on your electricity bill through net metering. 

The final date for lodgement of applications is fixed - no extensions or exceptions apply.

Customers are still able to connect new systems to the electricity grid without participating in the Solar Bonus Scheme. Those customers may wish to install net metering, to reduce their electricity bills. A number of energy retailers also offer separate financial incentives for customers with solar panels.

7. I submitted an application for connection but did NOT seek to participate in the Scheme. Can I now re-submit my application so that I can participate in the Scheme and receive the credit?

No. The Scheme closed to new applications from 28 April 2011.

8. An application to connect and participate in the Scheme (at 20c) was submitted on my behalf before April 29 with one solar company. That company is no longer trading so I have entered into a contract with a different solar company who has submitted another application on my behalf. Can I still participate in the Scheme?

If you change to a different installer this may require you to enter into a new contract and/or to lodge a new application to connect to your Network Services Business. You will need to seek independent legal advice as to whether changing installers will affect your eligibility.

If a new application was lodged on or after 29 April 2011, that is past the cut-off date and you will not be eligible to join the Scheme.

9. Is there any way I can rely upon the original application?

You should seek independent legal advice on this point.

Tariff payment eligibility - changes to the Solar Bonus Scheme announced 27 October 2010

In October 2010 the former NSW Government announced changes to the Solar Bonus Scheme reducing tariff payments from 60 cents to 20 cents and introducing a scheme capacity limit of 300 MW.

Transitional arrangements applied to customers wishing to participate in the 60 cent Scheme and those arrangements still apply to customers who are yet to be connected to the Scheme, but meet the transition requirements.

To receive 60 cents the following applies:

  • The customer's eligible system was purchased or leased on or before 27 October 2010; AND
  • On or before 18 November 2010 the customer (or his or her representative) lodged an application to apply to connect the system to the grid.
  • Late applications (i.e. those received after 18 November 2010) will be assessed under the new 20 cent Scheme. There are no exceptions or exemptions permitted.

Information about transitional arrangements

14. What if I have already joined the Scheme by 27 October 2010?

Customers whose systems were already connected to the grid by 27 October 2010 were not affected by the tariff changes. However, limited exceptions apply if circumstances change.

You will cease to belong to the original (60 cent) Scheme if you:

  • increase the size of your generator after 27 October 2010; OR
  • cease to be the customer entitled to receive the payments (such as when you move residence or close your electricity account).

15. What if I have already applied to join the 60 cent Scheme but haven't been connected yet?

If you - or your representative - lodged an application by 18 November 2010 you may be eligible to join the original 60 cent Scheme, provided you purchased or leased your system (or entered into a legally binding agreement to do so) on or before 27 October 2010 (proof required) and connected your generator by 30 June 2012. 

16. What is a legally binding agreement?

A binding agreement is an agreement enforceable by law.

An agreement entered into by a customer to purchase or lease a system is a binding agreement for the purposes of the Scheme even if the agreement permits the customer to terminate the agreement without penalty.

This means that customers who have entered into an agreement with a fully refundable deposit have a binding agreement for the purposes of the Scheme.

Customers who are unsure about the legal status of their arrangements should immediately contact their installer/supplier and/or seek legal advice.

17. I am on the 60 cent rate. Can I increase or decrease the capacity of my system and still receive that rate?

Increasing generation capacity refers to increasing the capacity of the solar array. An inverter is not part of the generator. It is a separate electrical device for converting the power supplied by solar panels or a wind turbine (direct current or DC) to alternating current (AC) so that it can be used by AC appliances or fed back into the grid. Customers can increase the size of their inverter at any time without changing their eligibility under the Solar Bonus Scheme, provided the capacity of the inverter does not exceed 10 kilowatts. 

The situation for customers receiving the 60 cents per kilowatt hour tariff who increase the generating capacity of their Scheme generator will depend on the date they purchased the extra components. If the components were purchased on or before 27 October 2010, the 60 cents per kilowatt hour tariff remains. If the components were purchased on or after 28 October 2010, the customer must notify their Network Services Business within 7 days that their generation capacity has increased and the customer will be switched to the 20 cents per kilowatt hour tariff rate for the entire output of their system. Fines and penalties of up to $110,000 may apply for failure to notify. 

Customers receiving the 20 cents per kilowatt hour tariff who increase the generating capacity of the system remain eligible for the 20 cent tariff rate.

No matter which tariff rate you receive, at all times your generator and inverter must have a capacity of 10 kilowatts or less for you to remain eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme.

You can decrease the capacity of your generator and inverter at any time without changing your eligibility under the Solar Bonus Scheme. You will need to ensure you follow the technical requirements of your Network Services Business for changes to your system.

18. I am currently receiving the 60 cent tariff rate. I continue to live in the same property but wish to change the name on my electricity account due to changes in my domestic relationships (e.g. change of name due to marriage, death or separation). Will I continue to receive the 60 cent tariff?

Yes. If the new customer (new name of the electricity account) is in a domestic relationship with the previous customer, they can continue to receive the Solar Bonus Scheme tariff – 60 or 20 cent rate, whichever applies.

Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services cannot provide advice on the individual circumstances of interested participants.

19. I am currently receiving the 60 cent rate. If I change retailer, without moving house, will I continue to receive the 60 cent rate?

Yes. A customer who continues to reside at the same address but decides to switch to a different electricity retailer will not cease to be eligible for the higher tariff rate.

20. If I move house, can I take my panels with me and continue to receive Solar Bonus Scheme tariff payments?

No. Moving premises will require a new application to join the Scheme. The Scheme is closed to new applications from 28 April 2011.

21. A new customer takes over an electricity account where the previous customer was a Scheme participant. What will the new customer receive for energy exported to the grid?

The customer name on an electricity account can change for a number of reasons, for example when a house is leased or purchased.

Generally, new account holders are eligible to receive Scheme payments at the 20 cent tariff rate if they take over the electricity account of a premises:

  • with a generator first connected before 1 July 2011; or
  • for which the original application to connect was received by midnight 28 April 2011 and the generator was connected by 1 July 2012. 

The new account holder is eligible to receive the 60 cent tariff if they can demonstrate they were in a domestic relationship with the previous customer who had been receiving the 60 cent tariff.

22. I entered into a binding agreement with one solar installer before 28 October 2010, who arranged for an application before 18 November 2010. However that installer is no longer trading. I have entered into a contract with a new solar installer. Must that installer submit a further application on my behalf, and will I still be eligible for the 60c credit?

If you change to a different installer this may require you to enter into a new contract and/or to lodge a new application to connect to your Network Services Business.

Depending on the date you entered into a contract to purchase your generator, this could affect your eligibility under either the 60 cent rate or the 20 cent rate. You will need to seek independent legal advice as to whether changing installers will affect your eligibility.

Solar Bonus Scheme Metering

23. Is the tariff a gross or net tariff?

The Scheme continues to offer a 'gross' tariff which means that customers are paid for all the electricity exported to the grid by their eligible renewable energy generator.

Customers who prefer to receive a 'net' tariff may choose to do so.

To receive the tariff on a 'gross' basis, customers with a net meter need to switch to a gross meter. In most cases, the switch to a gross meter can be undertaken at a relatively low cost. However, in some cases, switching to gross metering can be more expensive. Customers are advised to call their Accredited Service Providers to discuss individual circumstances and costs.

24. Should I choose a 'gross' meter or a 'net' meter?

It is up to individual customers to decide what metering arrangement will best suit their property, system and budget. Customers are encouraged to contact their Network Services Business or accredited service provider to discuss their metering options before making a final decision. Customers can switch from a net meter to a gross meter (and vice versa) at any time during the course of the Scheme. This change will not have an impact on the tariff rate that is received.

25. What happens if I have a net meter and am waiting for a gross meter to be installed?

Certain customers who meet all requirements for eligibility under the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme (other than having gross meters installed) and have net metering installed are able to receive net credits for their generation.

26. Can I have different types of metering arrangements?

A customer may only have one type of metering arrangement (gross or net).

27. How long does it take to connect my generator to the grid?

The time to connect a complying generator can be impacted by a number of factors, including the availability of solar panels from and installation timetables of accredited installers, the availability of meters and processing times for connection applications and associated work.

Changes to the Commonwealth Government's Solar Credits Scheme which take effect on 1 July 2012 may also impact on the installation timetables of installers and accredited service providers who must make the connection.

Electricity Network Services Businesses are working hard to ensure customers wishing to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme can be connected in a timely manner.

28. What are the telephone contact numbers for the Network Services Businesses?

  • Endeavour Energy (formerly known as Integral Energy) customer contact number 131 003.
  • Ausgrid (formerly known as EnergyAustralia) call centre number 131 535.
  • Essential Energy (formerly known as Country Energy) 'energyanswers' number 1800 ENERGY or 1800 363 749.

Solar Bonus Scheme parameters

29. How long will the Solar Bonus Scheme run for?

The Solar Bonus Scheme operates for 7 years from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2016. Eligible customers will be entitled to receive benefits under the Scheme from the time of the connection of their generator to the grid until the end of the Scheme. All generators must be connected by 30 June 2012 for customers to be eligible for Solar Bonus Scheme tariff payments.

30. Do all electricity retailers have to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Yes, all electricity retailers who supply small retail customers are required to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme.

31. Will the Solar Bonus Scheme be reviewed?

In 2011, the Auditor-General reviewed the Scheme and reported to Parliament on his review.

The legislation requires the Minister for Energy to review the scheme in 2012 and again after the end of the Scheme on 31 December 2016.

32. What is the Solar Bonus Scheme's regulatory framework?

The Solar Bonus Scheme's regulatory framework is set out in the Electricity Supply Act 1995 and the Electricity Supply (General) Regulation 2001 available at www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.

Solar Bonus Scheme eligibility

33. What are the factors to consider before installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine?

Solar PV systems installed and connected after 1 January 2010 must be installed by a person, who at the time of the installation had a Grid-connect Design & Install accreditation from the Clean Energy Council to be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme. The Clean Energy Council can be contacted on 03 9929 4100.

The Clean Energy Council also has information on Approved Grid Connect Inverters and solar photovoltaic (PV) modules suitable for installation under the Commonwealth Government rebate programs and Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) schemes. To find an accredited installer visit: www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au

Once the solar PV system or wind turbine is installed, customers must ensure that only a suitably qualified person connects the installation to the electrical wiring on their property, e.g. to their switchboard. A list of Level 2 accredited service providers who may provide this service is on the Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services website: www.industry.nsw.gov.au/energy/electricity/network-connections/contestable 

or call 9895 0008.

The Clean Energy Council has published a consumer guide for Solar PV: www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/cec/resourcecentre/Consumer-Info/solarPV-guide.html

The Commonwealth Government has prepared a quick guide to installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels: www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/renewable-target.aspx

For general consumer protection information, complaints about workmanship and enquiries see the NSW Fair Trading website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20 and select "home building enquiries".

For general information on the installation of solar panels see the NSW Fair Trading website. For general planning information and enquiries see the Planning NSW website: www.planning.nsw.gov.au/PlansforAction/PlanningforRenewableEnergy/tabid/394/language/en-US/Default.aspx

or call (02) 9228 6111.

34. What if my PV system was installed by a non-accredited Clean Energy Council installer?

To be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme it is required that Solar PV systems installed and connected after 1 January 2010 must be installed by a person, who at the time of the installation had a Grid-connect Design & Install accreditation from the Clean Energy Council, to be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme. To find an accredited installer visit: www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au

Each customer has the responsibility for ensuring that their renewable energy generator installation meets all requirements of the Solar Bonus Scheme including complying with the metering and connection requirements of their Network Services Business and the strict rules governing eligibility for the higher tariff rate.

Where a non-accredited person has installed a PV system, to be eligible for the Scheme, the customer needs to satisfy their Network Services Business operator that the installation has been subsequently inspected by a Clean Energy Council accredited installer.

35. Who is eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme?

The Solar Bonus Scheme was closed to new applications from 28 April 2011. These applicants must connect a complying generator to the network by 30 June 2012 to be eligible. 

Customers with annual electricity consumption less than 160 megawatt hours (MWh) are eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme. These customers are known as small retail customers.

This category includes households (which consume approximately 7.6 MWh per annum on average), as well as some small businesses, schools and community organisations.

This website provides general information on the Solar Bonus Scheme to assist individuals and businesses interested in participating in the Scheme. The Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (formerly Industry & Investment NSW) cannot provide advice on the individual circumstances of interested participants.

Each customer has the responsibility for ensuring that their renewable energy generator installation meets all requirements of the Solar Bonus Scheme including complying with the metering and connection requirements of their Network Services Business and the strict rules governing eligibility for the higher tariff rate.

36. What renewable energy generators are eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels or wind turbines (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) that connect to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) will be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme.

Solar PV systems installed and connected after 1 January 2010 must be installed by a person, who at the time of the installation had a Grid-connect Design & Install accreditation from the Clean Energy Council to be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme.

The Renewable Energy (RE) Industry Accreditation, an initiative of the Clean Energy Council, ensures that industry participants (such as PV installers) have a minimum level of competence in the design and installation of RE systems. To find an accredited installer visit: www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au

37. What does the Solar Bonus Scheme's 10 kilowatt capacity limit for renewable energy generators mean?

Only customers with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels or wind turbines (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) that connect to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) will be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme. Systems may have more than one inverter, provided their combined capacity is not greater than 10 kilowatts.

This capacity limit applies regardless of how many phases of power supply a customer has. For instance, even if a customer has three phase power supply the capacity of their solar panels or wind turbine can be no greater than 10 kilowatts and the inverter via which they supply electricity to the grid can be no greater than 10 kilowatts in capacity.

38. Am I able to install more than one eligible renewable generator and receive the Solar Bonus Scheme credit?

No, only one eligible renewable energy generator (solar photovoltaic system or wind turbine) per customer will be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme credit.

Generators that have both solar photovoltaic and wind turbine components are regarded as multiple generators.

Customers with more than one site are eligible for one generator only, provided they meet the small customer threshold.

39. Can community-owned solar farms participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Yes, community-owned solar farms or community organisations are eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for the Scheme, including that their solar photovoltaic (PV) system is no larger than 10 kilowatts in capacity and connects to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatt in capacity) and their electricity consumption is less than 160 megawatt hours (MWh) per annum.

40. Are wind turbines eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Wind turbines up to 10 kilowatts in capacity that connect to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) are eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme.

41. Are businesses and community organisations eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Yes, businesses and community organisations are eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for the Scheme, such as their solar photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine is no larger than 10 kilowatts in capacity and connects to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) and their average electricity consumption is less than 160 megawatt hours (MWh) per annum.

42. Can owner's corporations participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Owner's corporations may have an account for common power services distinct from individual lots. Owner's corporations are eligible for Solar Bonus Scheme payments, provided they meet the Scheme's criteria, for example, they consume less than 160 megawatt hours of electricity per year, have an eligible solar photovoltaic (PV) systems or wind turbine no larger than 10 kilowatts in capacity that connects to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) which is installed and connected to the national electricity grid on premises that they own or occupy in NSW.

43. How does the Solar Bonus Scheme apply to tenants and landlords?

Tenants who are responsible for the consumption of electricity at their leased premises may be eligible for the Scheme (provided all Scheme criteria are met). However, tenants will need to check their lease agreement before proceeding to install a generator as the express consent of their landlord will ordinarily be required.

A landlord who does not occupy the premises is unlikely to be eligible for the Scheme where the tenant is responsible for the consumption of electricity at those premises.

44. What if my organisation has a large retail supply contract (for electricity consumption 160 MWh or greater) which consolidates a number of small sites (each consuming less than 160 MWh)?

Only small retail customers are eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme. Your contract arrangements may affect what type of customer you are regardless of how much electricity is used at a particular site. If your contract is for consumption 160 MWh or greater, you are not eligible to participate in the Scheme.

Solar Bonus Scheme payments

45. When do I start receiving bonus payments?

Customers will become eligible to be credited with tariff (bonus) payments when their system is connected and supplying electricity to the grid. The popularity of the Scheme is placing demands on installers and Network Services Businesses. There may be delays before your system is connected to the grid. However, Network Services Businesses and installers are working to support timely connection of systems to the grid.

If you are an existing applicant and your system is connected after 30 June 2012 you will not be eligible for Solar Bonus Scheme payments.

Customers will receive notification of these credits on their electricity bill after they are connected. This could be around three months following connection of that system, depending on their billing cycle.

46. How is the Solar Bonus Scheme tariff rate received? What happens to participating customers' regular electricity bills?

All electricity retailers are required to provide eligible customers with either a Solar Bonus Scheme credit on their electricity bill or a cash payment representing this amount. How a customer receives their Solar Bonus Scheme benefit is at the discretion of the retailer.

A bill issued to an eligible small retail customer is required to include the amount of electricity supplied to the Network Services Businesses during the billing period and the amount to be credited for that electricity. Depending on the timing of connection, this information may not be on the first bill you receive after connection as electricity retailers require time to ready their billing systems.

47. Will the Solar Bonus Scheme tariff include a GST component?

Customers should seek independent tax advice concerning GST and any other tax matters.

The NSW Government is not able to provide advice as to whether or not particular income or payments are taxable by the Commonwealth Government.

Customers should speak to their accountant or the Australian Tax Office for advice as to whether Solar Bonus Scheme payments are taxable in their particular circumstances. To contact the Australian Tax Office customers can visit www.ato.gov.au or call 13 28 66 for business tax enquiries or 13 28 61 for personal tax enquiries.

48. How will the Solar Bonus Scheme tariff affect my pension or other Centrelink payments?

Pensions and other Centrelink payments are managed by the Commonwealth Government, through Centrelink.

On 14 May 2010, in a Media Release by the Commonwealth Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Commonwealth Government clarified the way feed-in tariffs from household solar panels are assessed for the purposes of the pension income test. The Commonwealth Minister has stated that:

feed-in tariffs that are paid to pensioners as a credit on an electricity bill will not be assessed as income under the pension income test;

  • power sold back to the grid in return for cash, cheque or a direct deposit is counted as income for social security purposes.
  • For further information on how their pension or other payments may be affected by the Scheme, customers should contact Centrelink to discuss their individual circumstances.

Customers should consider their options before deciding to participate in the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme.

To contact Centrelink customers can visit Centrelink or call their regular '13' telephone number.

49. Can I be backdated for electricity generated by eligible renewable energy generators under the Solar Bonus Scheme?

Only electricity generated and supplied by an eligible solar photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine, from the Scheme's commencement onwards, or the date the meter is installed and connected, whichever is the latter, will be eligible for credit under the Solar Bonus Scheme.

50. Can I install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine up to 10 kilowatts on a neighbour's roof and receive a credit under the Solar Bonus Scheme?

In order to receive benefits from the Solar Bonus Scheme, eligible customers must install and connect to the national electricity grid eligible solar photovoltaic (PV) systems or wind turbines no larger than 10 kilowatts in capacity that connect to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) at premises that they own or occupy in NSW.

51. How much does a solar photovoltaic (PV) system cost?

You should seek independent advice on the actual costs of a system.

52. How much does a solar photovoltaic (PV) system generate and how are my Solar Bonus Scheme payments calculated?

Solar PV electricity generation will vary between any two individual installations depending on various factors including:

  • cell and panel efficiency
  • inverter efficiency
  • system size
  • angle and aspect of installation (e.g. north facing)
  • the extent to which trees, buildings or other features shade your panels
  • cloud cover
  • daylight hours.

It is recommended that you seek advice from your system installer about the generation rates for your solar PV system.

Generation rates will affect your payments under the Solar Bonus Scheme. Your payments under the Solar Bonus Scheme can be calculated by multiplying the number of kilowatt hours exported by your solar PV system to the electricity network by the applicable tariff rate (20 cents per kilowatt hour or 60 cents per kilowatt hour).