Victorian Electricity Distributors have quietly introduced new hurdles to the installation of grid connected solar systems.
CitiPower and Powercor have both introduced a pre-approval process and criteria which are likely to result in many customers' applications to install grid connected solar systems being rejected.
NECA Victoria Executive Director, Philip Green said "these criteria are likely to result in many rural customers being unable to connect to the grid while in urban areas customers will have their applications knocked back on the basis that there are too many existing solar systems in their area."
"Your neighbours may all have grid connected solar, however the electricity distributors can knock you back - it seems to be a matter of first in, best dressed" said Mr Green. "In addition, these policies appear designed to hamper the spread of solar into the commercial and industrial sectors."
The distributors justify their policies on the basis that grid connected solar has effects on power quality and network integrity issues.
"The community has suffered massive increases in electricity prices over recent years with much of this increase going to upgrade (some would say gold plate) the network" said Mr Green. "Unsurprisingly many consumers are looking to mitigate the high cost of electricity by installing solar and yet they're being told that can't connect to the network that they've helped pay to upgrade."
"Distributors should not be at liberty to proceed and introduce restrictive policies that
will impede the community's best efforts to help reduce its impact upon the environment," said Mr Green.
The policies have not been widely communicated to either the community or sellers and installers of solar systems meaning that some customers who enter into sales contracts may never be able to connect to the grid. NECA also understand that other electricity distributors are likely to introduce similar policies.
Only last year, the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission released its Inquiry into Feed-in Tariffs & Barriers to Distributed Generation Final Report Power from the People. Neither this report nor the Victorian Government's response to it canvassed or proposed policies like these.
"We call upon the Victorian Government to intervene" said Mr Green.