Synergy offers free electricity to eligible customers, which is partly designed to help address challenges facing Western Australia’s main grid.
Excess energy from Western Australia’s booming rooftop solar sector will be used to help households struggling with the rising cost of living, as the State Government unveils a new community energy program offering free electricity to Synergy customers during peak hours.
The Western Australian government said the new scheme would provide free electricity throughout the day to Synergy’s customers, who suffer from ongoing financial difficulties and are serviced by the state-owned utility.
Western Australian Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the program would provide eligible households with 10 units of free electricity – about 75% of the average household’s daily consumption – during off-peak hours. Johnston said the electricity will come from excess electricity generated by rooftop solar systems connected to the state’s main grid, the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).
More than 400,000 Western Australian homes and businesses, about 36 per cent of customers, now have solar PV systems connected to SWIS, and together rooftop solar is the largest generator in the state.
Johnston said the new system will help address the dynamics of new generation and stabilize the grid by encouraging customers to shift their electricity consumption away from evening peak demand periods and into the middle of the day, when solar production is high and household use is traditionally low.
“The community energy product introduced by Synergy provides 10 units of electricity free of charge during the day to those participating in the case management program,” he said. “This lowers the cost of electricity for those with financial difficulties, while making use of the energy produced by the solar panels during the day.”
Johnston said the new program would also give struggling households an option to install solar panels, allowing more West Australians to enjoy the benefits of cheaper electricity during the day.
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To be eligible for the program, financially challenged customers must have an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meter and not have solar panels installed on their property. An estimated 9,100 Synergy customers are currently eligible.
The state government has predicted the scheme will save participants between AUD 200 and AUD 500 ($137.80) on their electricity bills each year.