Meters bringing power to people
THE wait will soon be over for many solar panel-fitted households wishing to take part in the state’s renewable energy feed-in tariff scheme, but some will still be left waiting.
Some 300 gross energy meters were delivered to Country Energy last week and another 300 are expected this week, the company said.
These meters will go a long way to quell demand for the green energy cash-in, but the company, which provides electricity from the Mid North Coast to the Queensland border, admits that not everyone will get a meter this time around.
Solar panel installers expressed frustration last week that many houses fitted with photovoltaic solar panels were not connected to the grid because of Country Energy delays and the lack of gross energy meters on the market.
One installer, who asked not to be named, said he knew of at least 60 households whose solar energy was going to waste because Country Energy had not allowed them to be hooked up, even temporarily, to the standard supplied net meters.
Responding to the claim, Country Energy regional general manager Richard Wake said any new electrical connection required some form of audit from Country Energy for safety reasons.
“In the case of solar installations this audit involves a site visit by a Country Energy officer to ensure that the installation meets the requirements set out by the State Government,” he said.
“Because solar installations produce energy back into the electrical network they must also be checked to ensure that a suitable automatic changeover device is installed that prevents the energy being fed back into the grid when the grid supply is turned off. This device is required both to ensure the safety of our employees who need to work on the electricity network and to protect the solar installation from over loading.
“Country Energy has put additional, trained staff toward completing the audits such that this delay (between the installation and the audit) is kept to a minimum.”
Mr Wake said the company had allowed solar systems to be connected to the grid using ‘net’ meters, which are usually supplied with the panels, but only once the audit had been carried out.
At the crux of the issue is the fact that demand for these ‘gross meters’ has outstripped supply since the NSW Government announced the gross feed in scheme in November last year. Existing solar power producers and owners of new solar-panelled homes jumped at the scheme.
“These gross meters are Australian made and the company that is supplying them is working double shifts to attempt to meet demand,” a Country Energy spokesman said.
“Country Energy has been advised that production and delivery will continue to increase through April.”