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How do solar feed-in tariffs work?

5-minute read

Installing solar panel

Deciding whether to install a solar panel set-up involves a lot of cost balancing. Fortunately, when you generate your own renewable power, you'll likely be eligible for something known as a feed-in tariff (FiT) or a power buyback. We explain what this is and how it can help alleviate your woes when it comes time to pay your power bills.

Note: Solar service not available in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia.

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What is a feed-in tariff?

A feed-in tariff is a rebate offered to people who produce their own renewable energy at home and feed it back into the power grid.

You could be eligible for this rebate if your house or business has any small renewable energy generators like wind turbines or solar panels.

When do you get paid?

The rebates apply when you feed excess power into the grid measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) — not the total power you produce. For example, if you produce 20 kWh and use 15, you will only receive the FiT for the 5 kWh left over.

Best feed-in tariffs in Australia?

Rates explained

Feed-in tariff rebates are measured in the number of cents you receive back per kWh, with typical values ranging between 6-30c/kWh. The rate you receive depends on what state you're in, which electricity retailer you're buying power from and the size of your solar set-up.

Keep in mind that FiT schemes are limited in a couple of ways. All states have an upper limit on the size of the system they can easily accommodate on their distribution network, typically around 10kW for single-phase or 30 kW for three-phase power.

State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
VictoriaAGL12.0c
VictoriaClick Energy12.0c
VictoriaDodo Power & Gas12.0c
VictoriaEnergy Australia12.0c
VictoriaOrigin Energy12.0c
VictoriaPower Direct12.0c
VictoriaRed Energy12.0c
VictoriaSimply Energy12.0c
VictoriaNot listed12.0c
State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
New South WalesAGL10.2c
New South WalesClick Energy10.0c
New South WalesCovau8.5c
New South WalesDodo Power & Gas11.6c
New South WalesEnergy Australia12.5c
New South WalesLumo Energy11.1c
New South WalesMomentum Energy7.0c
New South WalesOrigin Energy8.0c
New South WalesPower Direct10.2c
New South WalesPowershop10.2c
New South WalesQenergy8.0c
New South WalesRed Energy10.2c
State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
QueenslandAGL8.6c
QueenslandClick Energy8.0c
QueenslandDodo Power & Gas8.5c
QueenslandEnergy Australia16.1c
QueenslandErgon Energy7.8c
QueenslandOrigin Energy7.0c
QueenslandPower Direct8.6c
QueenslandQEnergy8.0c
State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
South AustraliaAGL14.2c
South AustraliaCommander Energy11.6c
South AustraliaEnergy Australia15.0c
South AustraliaLumo Energy15.0c
South AustraliaMomentum Energy6.8c
South AustraliaOrigin Energy10.0c
South AustraliaPacific Hydro12.8c
South AustraliaPower Direct14.2c
South AustraliaQEnergy8.0c
South AustraliaRed Energy14.2c
South AustraliaSimply Energy15.0c
State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
Western AustraliaHorizon Power7.1c (Varies with location)
Western AustraliaSynergy7.1c
State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
TasmaniaAurora Energy9.3c
TasmaniaERM Business Energy8.9c
State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
Australian Capital TerritoryActew AGL8.0c
Australian Capital TerritoryEnergy Australia8.0c
Australian Capital TerritoryOrigin Energy8.0c
Australian Capital TerritoryPower Direct6.0c
Australian Capital TerritoryRed Energy8.0c
State:Retailer:Standard FIT:
Northern TerritoryJacana Energy23.8c

Source: Solar Calculator. Solar Feed-in Tariffs may vary based on your location and are subject to change over time. Make sure you check with your retailer.

Must read: Higher feed-in tariffs? Check the usage rates.

Retailers with higher FiT rates may have increased electricity usage rates to match, meaning your overall power bill may hardly shift if your solar set-up isn't large enough.

State by state tariff rules

The following table outlines the FiT schemes in place in Australia, which are mostly comparable between states. The only exception to the "net" power schemes available everywhere else is the city of Darwin in the NT, which uses a "gross" power tariff scheme instead.

StateTariff schemes availableRate paidMax size of set-up
VIC
  • Flat rate
  • Time-varying rate
  • 9.9 c/kWh
  • Between 7-29c/kWh depending on retailer
  • Up to 100kW
SA
  • No set minimum
  • Between 7-15c/kWh depending on retailer
  • 10kW per phase of power (max of 30)
ACT
  • No set minimum
  • Between 8-17 c/kWh depending on retailer
  • 5kW for single phase
  • 30kW for three phase
TAS
  • No set minimum, but little competition
  • About 7 c/kWh
  • 10kW for single phase
  • 30kW for three phase
NT
  • Solar Buyback Scheme through PowerWater
  • About 26 c/kWh (set by PowerWater)
  • 5 kW for single phase
  • 7 kW for three phase
  • Over 30kVa is calculated upon application
WA
  • Western Power rates in the southwest
  • Horizon rates elsewhere
  • About 7.2 c/kWh for Synergy customers
  • Highly varied rates by region, from 10-50 c/kWh
  • 10kW for single phase
  • 30kW for three phase
  • Varies by region
QLD
  • Energex rates in the southeast (no fixed minimum)
  • Ergon rates elsewhere (set minimum)
  • 10-16 c/kWh
  • 10 c/kWh minimum rate
  • 5kW for single phase
  • 15kW for three phase
  • 10kW for single phase
  • 30kW for three phase
NSW
  • No set minimum
  • Between 6-16 c/kWh depending on retailer
  • 5kW for single phase
  • 30kW for three phase

Can renters benefit from feed-in tariffs?

The answer to this is yes — unless their lease states otherwise. When you are renting a property with its own solar panels, your power bills will benefit from the FiT in the same way as if you owned the property.

If you're living in a townhouse or other property that's part of a complex, you'll need to have your own power meter installed so that your usage and power fed back into the grid can be separated from the other residents. Some landlords will offer leases that specify tenants can't benefit from feed-in tariffs, so read your rental agreement carefully to see if this is the case.

What is a premium solar feed-in tariff?

Premium feed-in tariffs were offered to some people installing solar energy between the years of 2007 and 2011. Premium rates are much higher than current FiT rates, often up around 40c/kWh, but they can no longer be obtained.

The only people with access to these higher rates are those who signed up with these rates when they were offered, still use the house they installed the panels in as their primary residence and have not upgraded their solar array since. You may also be able to access premium rates if you move into a residence where premium rates have been preserved.

Time varying feed-in tariffs

Some states allow for time-varying FiT, which will change depending on whether you're feeding power in at peak or off-peak periods. Check if you have access to one of these and can benefit from feeding power into the grid at times of peak usage (usually weekdays between 7am and 7pm).

Picture: GettyImages

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