ACT solar farms make consumers $840,000 in a week

B2B Editor25 February 2017

The ACT’s renewable energy investments are performing strongly and helping to insulate consumers from electricity price pressures, Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said today.

“Three of our large-scale solar farms were generating electricity during the high price spikes experienced during the recent heatwave. An estimated $840,000 of earnings will flow back to ACT electricity users as an offset against future energy prices,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The Federal Government’s comprehensive failure to manage the transition to a clean energy future-instead spruiking a ‘clean coal’ fantasy – makes it even more important that states and territories like the ACT lead the way in climate change action.

“Far from being to blame for electricity supply problems during the recent heatwave, in times of peak electricity use, renewable electricity generation like wind and solar are the quiet achievers, helping reduce demand spikes that threatened the stability of the grid in difficult conditions.”

Through the ACT’s innovative electricity purchasing agreements with ten wind and solar projects across Australia, renewable energy generators receive a set price for the renewable electricity they produce over a 20 year period. What the ACT pays is the difference between this set price and their wholesale market earnings.

“This means that when wholesale market prices are high, like during a heatwave, instead of ACT consumers paying the solar farms, the solar farms instead pay them,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Due to the high electricity demand being experienced across NSW during the recent heatwave, the wholesale price at times reached as high as $14,000 per megawatt hour and averaged $419 per megawatt hour. This is many times higher than the maximum feed-in tariff price of $186 per megawatt hour paid to the ACT’s solar farms.”

Mr Rattenbury said several reports have identified this arrangement (also called ‘contract for difference’ clauses) is buffering ACT residents from high wholesale electricity prices.

“As well as ensuring the ACT leads the nation in our commitment to the environment through provision of renewable electricity, we continue to have some of the lowest electricity prices in Australia,” Mr Rattenbury added.

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