Western Australia has a unique electric power system compared with other states and territories. However, electricity tariffs are high like in the rest of Australia, and solar power provides an excellent return on investment for this reason.
Most homeowners in Western Australia cannot choose their electricity provider, like in other states. However, electricity prices are set and regulated by the local government.
Synergy is the only electricity provider for most households in Perth and the surrounding cities. This area is served by an electricity grid called the South West Interconnected System (SWIS). Only consumers who use more than 50,000 kWh per year can choose their electricity provider, but the average WA home uses less than 6,000 kWh per year.
Homeowners outside of the SWIS region can choose their electricity provider, but most areas are only served by Horizon Power.
As mentioned above, electricity prices are regulated by the government in WA. All residential clients of Synergy and Horizon Power are charged 28.8229 cents/kWh, plus a fixed fee of 103.3263 cents/day.
In the case of Synergy, there is also a time-of-use tariff available:
- 54.8142 cents/kWh peak
- 15.1002 cents/kWh off-peak
- 28.7076 cents/kWh shoulder
- 103.3263 cents/day, like in the fixed-rate tariff
Western Australia does not have local solar rebate programs, but the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) offers nationwide incentives. Homeowners in some parts of WA can sell surplus production from their solar panels at high prices, through the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS).
Western Australia Solar Rebate 2020
Although WA does not have local solar rebates, the nationwide incentive program can reduce the upfront cost of solar power systems by over 30%. The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme is summarized below:
- Solar power systems with up to 100 kW of capacity are eligible.
- The electricity production of solar power systems is estimated between their installation year and 2030. For solar installations in 2020, this is equivalent to 11 years.
- A Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) is awarded for every 1,000 kWh of estimated electricity production.
- STCs must be purchased by electricity retailers, as part of the Renewable Energy Target from the Clean Energy Regulator. Typically, each STC sells for $35-$40.
Solar power systems in the Perth region normally get 15 STCs for every kilowatt of installed capacity. For example, a 6-kW installation gets 91 STCs as of 2020, equivalent to an incentive of $3,185 – $3,640. If the price before rebates is $9,600, the STC incentive reduces upfront costs by more than one-third.
The incentive is even higher in the central and northern regions of Western Australia, since they get more sunshine than Perth. As a result, solar panels produce more electricity during an 11-year period, and they earn more STCs. A solar power system installation that gets 15 STC per kilowatt of capacity in Perth may earn 17-18 STC per kilowatt in sunnier parts WA.
Consider the following examples:
- Kalbarri is sunnier than Perth, and a 6-kW solar system earns 101 STC as of 2020.
- Newman is even sunnier than Kalbarri, and a 6-kW solar system earns 107 STC.
- In these cases, the incentive increases according to the additional STCs earned.
Assuming a price range of $35-$40 per STC, the Kalbarri installation would get a rebate of $3,535 – $4,040, while the Newman installation would get $3,745 – $4,280.
If you need further information about the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, please visit the Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator website.
Western Australia Solar Power Feed-in Tariffs
Western Australia has the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme (REBS), which determines how much is paid for surplus electricity generated by your solar panels. This rate is called a solar feed-in tariff (FIT), and the rules are different for Synergy and Horizon Power:
- All Synergy clients get an FIT of 7.135 cents/kWh.
- Horizon Power defines the FIT depending on the location. Some regions of Western Australia have very high FITs of 45-50 cents/kWh, while other regions have no FIT.
1,000 kWh of surplus generation earn $71.35 with the Synergy tariff, but this increases to $450 for a Horizon Power client who gets 45 cents/kWh. However, since FITs are location-dependent in WA, electricity consumers have no way to change them. Solar power systems can be sized smaller when the local FIT is low or zero, to avoid surplus production. On the other hand, solar systems can be sized larger when the local FIT is high.
Assume a solar power system produces 8,500 kWh, where 7,000 kWh are consumed and 1,500 kWh are exported to the grid. The savings achieved from the 7,000 kWh are equal in all cases since electricity prices are regulated in Western Australia. At 28.8229 cents/kWh, the resulting savings are $2,017.60.
The following table summarizes the additional savings achieved with four possible feed-in tariffs:
|Feed-in Tariff||Additional Savings||Total Savings||Increase (%)|
These are just estimated with assumed information, but they demonstrate how FITs affect the total savings achieved by solar panels. A qualified solar company like Instyle Solar can estimate your potential savings accurately, based on the local sunshine and electric tariffs available.
If you need further information about solar feed-in tariffs in Western Australia, please visit the WA Government Energy Policy website.
You might also be interested in our blog that addresses the current Solar Rebates for all Australian states – ‘Solar Rebates 2020’
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