While most of Australia’s electricity companies are companies that operate or are owned by companies that operate the nations gas pipelines and distribution networks, Ausgrid is different; It is owned 49.6% by the NSW government and 51.4% by IFM investors and Australian Super who represent over 10 million Aussie superannuation pension fund members.
Unlike other networks which are controlled mostly by overseas companies from Hong Kong, China or Singapore, it would be fair to say that Ausgrid with its local representative ownership of the NSW governments and millions of Sydney siders with super would be more likely to have the interests of its customers at heart. You can see this in the capacity limit they set for solar to connect to the grid, 10kW is the minimum magic number for domestic contributions to the grid as roofs are only so big and somewhere between 20-30kW is the maximum amount of solar that can fit on most domestic roofs anyway. At 20kW of solar even if everything at home is turned off and a householder goes on a holiday for a customer in Melbourne just 12.5% of electricity would be limited if the feed-in-limit is 10kW.
The problem with Ausnet compared to other networks is they are not yet approving grid export limiting. The 10kW limit is great but customers also need to be able to use a grid export limiting device (such as Fronius smart meter or Solaredge self consumption meter) to install at the higher end 20kW of inverter capacity (Say 2x Solaredge 10kW) with 26kW of panel to provide enough energy to power through winter a Tesla PW2 and two electric vehicles. At the moment on Ausgrid this is not possible as with its older out-of-date rules export limiting is not being approved.
To recap today Ausgrid is amongst the leaders with a 10kW limit for solar feed in, however there are clearly two areas they need to improve on.
- They are a member of lobby group ENA – Energy Networks Australia which is lobbying strongly for a reduction in feed-in around the country by 50% to 5kW. Sources tell us that Ausgrid has not been actively pushing back against this reduction to Australian solar home owners and inevitably for its customers who live in and around the Sydney basin through to Newcastle.
- Export limiting. Ausgrid’s 10kW limit is out-dated, since it was adopted almost 20 years ago consumer level export limiting devices from Fronius, SMA, Enphase and Solaredge have become available and are now used on a majority of other networks in Australia and around the world.
Ausgrid needs to show leadership now in face of a move against solar by the gas industry captured Energy Networks lobby group. Taking on these two very important positions is in the interest of its customers, a future transition to renewable energy and the members of Australian Super (including this author) and all industry superannuation funds members who live in the Ausgrid distribution area. In fact any superannuantion member who lives anywhere in Australia will benefit from Ausgrid's next move as Ausgrid’s leadership will be required to get 10kW maintained as a standard rather than allowing it to be watered down to 5kW as Energy Networks Australia’s predominate gas industry linked membership would like to achieve.