Retailers will be required to provide Victorian solar customers access to the same offers as non-solar consumers, under changes to the Electricity Industry and Essential Services Commission Acts passed by the Victorian parliament.
The changes have been designed to ensure that incentives for investment in solar are not undermined by energy retailers imposing higher charges on solar customers, the government said.
The move, however, follows the ESC slashing feed-in tariffs for solar energy by 20 per cent, justified by a lower daytime peak demand, which has in part been caused by an increase in solar PV.
- See our story Solar industry fumes as feed-in tariffs slashed
The Victorian government will soon review the methodologies used to calculate feed-in tariffs, according to the Clean Energy Council.
Other changes to energy legislation include banning early exit fees for fixed-term electricity and gas plans where the retailer has increased the price, and providing the ESC with greater powers to enforce compliance with energy sector consumer protections.
Compliance measures include the ability to impose $20,000 penalties on energy retailers breaching licence obligations, and doubling wrongful disconnection payments to $500 a day. The ESC will be able to impose a $5000 penalty for each breach of the Energy Retail Code that has led to a wrongful disconnection.
“These changes will provide greater fairness, certainty and security for families when it comes to their energy bills,” Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.
She said under the former government disconnections had soared, and wrongful disconnections had doubled.
“We’re putting the interests of Victorians at the front and centre of our energy retail policy,” she said.