Is the biggest feed-in tariff the best plan for you?

Solar Feed-in Tariff

We get asked all the time, “What retailers pay the best / biggest / highest solar feed-in tariff?” While we direct them to our solar feed-in page, at the same time we explain why the very highest solar feed-in tariff doesn’t usually lead to the cheapest plan.

Ultimately you need to consider your complete electricity profile including consumption to ensure you’re getting the very best deal.

Solar Feed-in Tariff – an emotionally charged term

As a solar owner, I understand that feed-in tariffs are a very emotional subject for owners. We want the value of the solar we generate and export to be recognised and valued appropriately. When we know that it generally travels less than a hundred metres to power our neighbours’ homes (where they are paying the same prices as if it was generated hundreds of kilometres away at a large power station). We want to see that benefit and other financial and environmental benefits recognised and achieve a fair return on our solar investment.

At first glance, it seems logical to look for a retailer or plan with a high feed-in tariff that values what we produce.

“My advice is don’t be blinded by the brightest solar feed-in tariffs.”

Let me explain why it’s all part of the pricing game and how you can work out which plan really is best for you.

New feed-in tariffs. New watch outs.

Since July 2017 there has been a significant increase in solar feed-in tariffs across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and South East Queensland. That’s a good thing. You can view the latest feed-in tariffs here for every state and territory. What you will notice is that there are a couple of retailers who have created plans specifically targeted to solar households with feed-in tariffs significantly above the average feed-in tariff (eg. up to 22c per kWh in some states). While these tariffs are attractive and in low consumption scenarios may be a great deal, the plans with the leading feed-in tariffs charge consumption rates that are higher than the retailer’s cheapest non-solar plans. So while your solar feed-in is rewarded that comes at the cost of paying higher usage rates.

Also, to make it more challenging, some of these high feed-in tariff plans include limitations including:

  • the feed-in tariff can be limited to systems under 5kW or under 10kW;
  • feed-in tariffs that reduce after 12 months;
  • feed-in tariffs that reduce after you export a certain amount per day; and
  • requirements that you have to purchase an eligible system PV system from that electricity retailer.

So while we list these “limited” solar plans alongside other less limited plans, the eligibility criteria or variable rates of some of these high feed-in tariff plans often limit them to a smaller group of solar owners.

How to get the best solar deal

Through maintaining over 2000 household plans from across Australia, we know the pricing behaviour of the various retailers and we build our comparison engine to ensure that their plans are priced correctly for your solar export and system size eg. we don’t show you plans where your system exceeds their system size limit. We also highlight plans with key limitations such as having to buy a solar PV system from the retailer so you aware of those limitations.

But the most important thing we do at WATTever is to use all of your electricity consumption and generation (or more specifically imports from and exports back to the grid) to show you the best overall electricity deals. By doing this we help you qualify the high feed-in tariff plans and determine if they are the great deal the feed-in tariff may have lead you to believe.

About the author: David Hiley has an 11kW solar PV system installed by a local solar company in 2013. He currently receives 12.8c feed-in tariff on all his exported solar.

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