New advocacy group for solar energy users

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New advocacy group, Solar Citizens has been set up to represent the interests of the million-plus Australian residents who have solar panels on their roofs.

As SMH reports, the group aims to attract tens of thousands of members and aims to ensure that solar panel owners are not badly treated by power companies and governments.

Greg Evans, manager of Solar Citizens, said,  “People are feeling vulnerable having invested thousands of dollars in solar panels….We think there is a pushback going on.”

The formation of Solar Citizens comes as energy companies have claimed that efforts to promote solar and wind energy for driving up electricity costs.

For example, Origin Energy’s managing director Grant King recently claimed that, if solar PV owners retain access to the grid but source little power from it, costs will be higher for everybody else.

In addition, there have been signs of significant progress in solar energy technology in recent times and many believe that the technology needs to play a larger role in Australia’s energy and climate change approach.

As one of its first actions, Solar Citizens plans to campaign against possible plans, recommended by Queensland’s Competition Authority, to make solar owners pay more to connect to the grid.

 “They’re suggesting solar users should pay time of use tariffs when consuming electricity from the grid and it’s not clear other consumers will be obliged to do that,” Evans said.

Craig Memery, energy policy advocate at the Alternative Technology Association also disagreed with Queensland's Competition Authority.

He said, “If they’re going to do that fairly (in Queensland), they’re going to have to do that for everyone who gets an air-conditioner.”

“Those who don’t have air-conditioners very heavily cross-subsidise those who do.”