Twelve months of solar power

My grid-connected PV solar system was officially 12 months old on 1st November.

‘Officially’ means that was the day the Smart Meter was reconfigured to show solar credits, i.e. how much electricity I’m sending to the grid.

Even though the system was installed in late September and turned on a few days later, I had to wait a further 5-6 weeks for the reconfiguration to be done. During that time power was being sent to the grid but I wasn’t getting a credit for it. (Electricity retailers always make sure they come out ahead, which is why they’re so universally disliked).

Anyway, I’ve been reading the meter and inverter on a daily basis, as a check on my bills and for my own interest. All the data has been entered on a spreadsheet, which has been really helpful, as I can instantly check when a bill comes in.

So…wait for it…I didn’t pay a bill in the whole 12 months. Not one cent. AND I still have almost $400 in credit.

Mind you, these are my figures. My retailer still hasn’t fixed up the problems with the January-April bill. That’s the one where they got the solar credits wrong and I missed out on $300 worth of credits. I’ll give them one more billing period to get it right and then the Energy & Water Ombudsman will be getting a report (to add to the thousands they already have to cope with, from other disgruntled consumers).

In previous years I’ve paid about $1200 for electricity. So I’ve ‘earned’ $1600 on the $5600 investment (the cost of the system). That’s a return of nearly 29% !! A bit better than leaving it in the bank.

Here are the average daily figures for the 12 months:

Power produced by the panels = 11.1 kWh   (highest summer reading = 27.1 kWh; lowest winter reading = 1.8 kWh)

Power imported from the grid = 3.2 kWh

Cost of power imported from the grid = $0.87

Power exported to the grid = 9.5 kWh

Credit for exported power = $3.12

Total cost including supply = -$1.13 (the minus sign signifies a credit).


I’m pretty chuffed with the results, as you’d imagine. One of the reasons it’s all come out so well is that I use very little power from the grid anyway, so the size of the system is far in excess of what I need and I’m receiving a good feed-in-tariff (33 cents) at the moment. It won’t always be that way as that’s due for review at the end of 2016, and I expect it to be less or zero (depending on the government we have at the time), but at least I hope to have most of the cost paid off by then. Eventually I’d like to go off-grid completely and that will end the ongoing frustration with energy suppliers and retailers.



6 Responses to “Twelve months of solar power”

  1. narf77 Says:

    I hope you can hear me clapping loudly and cheering from over the ditch Bev as I am well impressed :). I love to hear a good bolshie story of people shoving it to “the man” and you can get any more “the man” than the damned energy companies! Don’t you love how their lobby groups are so strong they are able to have natural energy limited in order to maintain their market? Sigh…our local energy company is whinging because it has to work harder to supply high demand in the depths of winter and the heights of summer but our local goverment offered incentives to people to throw out their wood fires and spend up big on electrical heat pumps and air conditioners (obviously to maintain the status quo and profit margin of their government owned company…) and wonder why there is such a high demand on the services?! I can’t wait till we can afford to install a wind turbine. I might even send Hugh Fearnley whittingstall a letter and ask him to come down and sort out our local area with a great big wind turbine. I am sure that we could all chip in and build one if he enthused the wealthy and told them how much it would save them (you always have to appeal to the hip pockets of the wealthy or they can’t hear you 😉 ). LOVE that you got a year of free power and good luck with your complaining about their stuff ups as stuff ups are the least of their concerns. You just know that your complaint goes into a VERY large bucket marked “shredder”…sigh…


  2. rabidlittlehippy Says:

    Oh gods it sounds like us. Installed months ago and still waiting on the smart meter! 😦 Can’t turn on the panels even as any excess power fed back to the grid will be charged to us rather than credited. Not a good old meter. :(:(:( We hope to go hybrid or off grid one day too and I look forward to our meter coming and the solar going online so we can start to truly assess our usange and start working towards that end.

    Congrats on both 12 months and being so far in credit! 🙂


  3. Bek Says:

    Very interesting to hear your experience. I’d love to get solar but I rent so it’s not an option, and looking into it (hoping to convince my landlord) I found I’d only be eligible for an 8c feed in tariff. That doesn’t even cover my off peak cost!!! Eventually when I have my own place I plan to seriously consider an off grid complete system with battery backup. I agree the review of tariffs is likely to mean minimal reimbursement. I figure my best bet is currently to do everything I can to reduce my energy use as much as possible.


  4. notsomethingelse Says:

    Good show Bev. Congrats.

    You realise, of course, that you are part of the reason the ‘Big 3’ energy retailers are trying hard to get the RET scrapped. They can’t make any money from you and are very reluctant to have to actually pay you as a supplier. They can only make money from dirty coal-powered suppliers.

    Australia is currently producing far more power than we actually need. It would therefore make sense to close some dirty power stations but the current government doesn’t like that idea, preferring to hit the so-called ‘renewables’ sector. I hope they can be persuaded to change their ideas, maybe through embarrassment at the G20 this month, but I have no great expectation that will happen.

    I am actually getting free electricity at the moment. I am not too happy about that as it is dirty power rather than my usual 100% renewable supply through Powershop. This came about because I reported a fault on the supply line from the grid (the line was smoking and sparking through deterioration and should have been condemned years ago). The power company raised a defect on the line and disconnected it from the grid. My landlord then had to connect my house to a meter at a nearby farm shed also on their property, until a repair can be made. Hence the free electricity.

    I do have 360W of solar panels off grid and feeding a battery bank with a 1kW inverter, which helps a little. Plus a 2.5kW LPG/Natural Gas/Biogas powered generator for emergency and portable outdoor power, which also helps.


  5. Chris Says:

    This couldn’t be a better result, and I do believe bringing down electricity consumptions helps the bottom line. Do you have to run a pump for your water, and for your septic? If we didn’t have those things to run 365 days a year, our solar return would be more substantial.

    But then we haven’t had ours for the full year yet, so we may catch up during summer. 😉

    Happy solar anniversary though and reason enough to celebrate a good investment.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Chris, no I don’t run a pump for the water and septic, because the water tank isn’t plumbed into the house (I have town water) and the toilet is a composting toilet, not a septic, although it does have a fan that runs 24/7 but uses very little power.

      I’m thinking of putting in an air conditioner for the summer, but only running it during during the day (when the sun can literally run it).


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