Unison Networks has introduced a new price category from today, for customers connecting distributed generation (DG) to its network. The new price category was introduced to address unfairness between customers with and without DG installations.
Had it not introduced the new price category, Unison says the increase in DG installations across its network would result in higher power bills for those not installing their own generation, such as solar panels, and support the continuation of inaccurate price signals for those considering installing the technology.
Unison GM Business Assurance, Nathan Strong said currently, many distributed generation consumers receive a significant reduction in their network charges because of the lower electricity volumes flowing through the network, however they still contributed to peak network demand which dictates network investment.
Mr Strong said the new price category ensures the costs of building and maintaining the network to meet peak demand were shared fairly among all electricity users.
“Unison must build and maintain a network to support the delivery of electricity at peak demand, which is during the winter evenings – a time when most distributed generation systems, such as solar panels, are not helping to reduce the network peak.”
“Currently to do this, it costs Unison around $900 to service each residential customer. Under the previous price structure, those customers with DG connections were avoiding approximately $300 of these costs, which we would still incur to supply them with the same service. That avoided cost would then be shared across other users, and we don’t believe that is fair.
"Under the new DG price category, customers with a DG installation such as solar will be saving around $150-190 per year. Unison supports people choosing to install their own generation - our aim is simply to ensure other customers without distributed generation don't pay higher prices as a result."
The Electricity Authority (EA) had signalled the need to address the impact of emerging technologies (such as solar DG) on electricity distribution costs, recently putting out a consultation paper on the subject.
In preparing to introduce the new price category, Unison discussed the new approach with solar installers, electricity retailers, and the EA.