Installing a renewable energy system or a solar system is a big investment and it can be a complex process.

It's essential that you do your research up front so you can make a considered decision on whether solar or sustainable power is right for you.

Read the Clean Energy Council Consumer Guide to Solar PV

Once you have installed a renewable energy system, or a solar system, your electricity metering and supply rates may change.

You should contact your electricity retailer and ask about the potential changes to your electricity rates before purchasing a solar system.

We also recommend that you proactively manage the process from start to finish. It can take several months, and there are often several parties involved including electricity retailers, solar installers and your local power distributor.

Quick tips

  • See the Clean Energy Council's Consumer Guide to Solar PV for more detailed information and advice.
  • Check if your meter needs to be upgraded so you can receive a feed-in tariff for solar.
  • Compare quotes from different solar installers.
  • Shop around several electricity retailers for the retail offer that best suits your needs.
  • To take up a feed-in tariff, you will need to create a new contract with an electricity retail company of your choice.
  • Shop around for the deal that best suits you as different electricity retailers may offer different prices and different terms and conditions.
  • When you change to a feed-in tariff plan, you will most likely be transferred to peak and off-peak electricity pricing. Compare offers carefully. Many people will benefit from peak and off-peak rates. Learn more.
  • Be sure to also check with your electricity retailer about:
    • whether your dedicated off-peak rates might change, if you have off-peak hot water, space heating or air-conditioning
    • whether you can keep your existing electricity purchase discounts administration fees (if any)
    • how Renewable Energy Certificates are handled
    • what happens to excess feed-in tariff credits
  • Please note that as of June 2013 all distributed generation systems in the Powercor distribution area require a technical pre-approval check regardless of system size. These pre-approvals expire in 90 days by which date all relevant paperwork will need to have been received by Powercor. Under certain circumstances this expiry period may be extended. Powercor has advised that pre-approvals are normally processed within 8-10 working days.
  • In the AusNet Services distribution area, a technical pre-approval check is required for all distributed generation systems greater than 4.6kW in capacity.
  • In the Citipower distribution area, technical pre-approvals are required for any distributed generation system over 4.6kW and/or that is supplied by a Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) line.
  • In the Jemena and United Energy distribution areas pre-approvals are required for distributed generation systems greater than 10kW.
  • For more information, including any associated fees, please contact your electricity distributor.
  • Shop around for quotes from different solar installers. A list of accredited installers of solar PV systems is available at  www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au
  • Ask if you will receive any Renewable Energy Certificates as part of your solar installation or whether they will be transferred to the solar installer.
  • Take time to compare quotes from solar PV installers.
  • Be wary of claims that you will never pay an electricity bill again after installing solar.
  • Find out about the paperwork involved and work with your installer to make sure it's submitted to your electricity suppliers promptly.

To access the feed-in tariff, your electricity meter may need to be reconfigured to be compatible with a solar system in order to measure both the power you use (imports) and the power you send to the grid (exports). This meter will record your power imports and exports every half hour. Check with your retailer for the likely cost of this reconfiguration.

  • If you already have a solar system installed and think that you may be eligible to receive a feed-in tariff, contact your electricity retailer and ask about their best offer. Take the time to compare this offer with a few other retail offers as you may be able to save by shopping around.
  • If you are already receiving the Transitional or Premium Feed-in Tariff, you can still switch between retailers in order to find the best offer for your circumstances. However, under the Standard Feed-in Tariff (SFIT) you are not able to switch retailers and continue to receive this rate as the SFIT contract is a contract between the customer and the specific retailer. If you still wish to move retailers you may instead be eligible for the current Feed-in Tariff, set at a minimum of 8 cents per kilowatt hour for 2014.

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) creates a financial incentive for owners to install eligible small-scale installations, including solar panel systems. It does this by legislating demand for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). STCs are created for eligible installations according to the amount of electricity they produce or displace. STCs can provide an upfront discount to the cost of installing a solar system. For more information visit the Clean Energy Regulator website.

Technical pre-approval checks

Please note that as of June 2013 all distributed generation systems in the Powercor distribution area require a technical pre-approval check regardless of system size. These pre-approvals expire in 90 days by which date the relevant paperwork will need to have been received by Powercor. Under certain circumstances this expiry period may be extended.

In the AusNet Services distribution area, a technical pre-approval check is required for all distributed generation systems greater than 4.6kW in capacity. For more information, including any associated fees, please contact AusNet Services.

In the Citipower distribution area, technical pre-approvals are required for any distributed generation system over 4.6kW and/or that is supplied by a Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) line.

In the Jemena and United Energy distribution areas pre-approvals are required for distributed generation systems greater than 10kW.

For more information, including any associated fees, please contact your electricity distributor.