Media Release

21 March 2016

The NSW Opposition has slammed Baird Government plans to force households with solar panels to pay up to $600 for ‘smart meters’ from next year.

Baird Government legislation will place pressure on up to 130,000 households to pay for the installation of smart meters if they want to continue to receive rebates for feeding power back into the grid.

From the end of the year the amount households with solar panels can sell electricity back to the grid is set to plummet to as low as 4¢ per kilowatt hour as the scheme winds up. This is because, after the closure of the Solar Bonus Scheme, the Baird Government has not put in place any requirement for a fair minimum feed-in tariff for households generating rooftop solar energy. Labor committed to a mechanism for a fair minimum feed-in tariff for solar households at the 2015 NSW state election.

The legislation, which passed the upper house, will also greatly increase the number of people able to install electricity meters, raising safety concerns about the level of skills that will be required of those performing this work.

The Opposition has also raised concerns that consumers could be locked into long-term contracts with retailers because they – as opposed to the householder – will actually ‘own’ the meters.

Labor, which voted against the bill in the Upper House, also moved unsuccessfully to take the Bill to a committee to analyse the real impacts of this these rushed measures.

Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Adam Searle today said:

“The Baird Government is punishing the people who are trying to do the right thing by the environment.

“Energy retailers don’t need to install an expensive new meter to check your electricity generation and usage, they have all the information at their fingertips but this Government has pressed ahead regardless.

“Labor fought to strike out smart meter charges as unnecessary and unfair. We also moved to ensure those with rooftop solar electricity generation received a fair return for their efforts to generate clean, renewable energy.

“In addition, Labor made efforts to ensure that those installing the meters had to have the same level of skill and accreditation as they do at present, to ensure the physical safety of householders, the wider public as well as those who do the work.

“The significant risks of injury and death, as well as damage to property, are just too high to take risks by lowering the standards as proposed by the Baird Government.

“Unfortunately, the Government failed to respond properly to our concerns, leaving us no choice but to oppose the Bill.”