Retirement Income

Mon, 20 Aug, 2018Basmah Qazi

Family's despair after power bills increase by 400% due to law change

Family's despair after power bills increase by 400% due to law change

When Lee and Warren Mullaly purchased their new home in Forster, NSW they were thrilled. Having pre-installed solar panelling would ensure that their electricity bill would remain low, and while that was the case for a period of time, this year, the semi-retired couple are paying over $400 each quarter.

“The government incentive finished and even though we were aware this was going to happen, we still thought our bills were going to be significantly lower,” Lee Mullaly told

Without a battery, the Mullaly's only find their solar panels beneficial during the day as the power produced must be used immediately.

And in the evenings when the panels are not generating electricity, any power they use during that period comes from the grid. With their bill previously coming in at $95 a quarter, they are now facing an increase of $1400 more than what they paid the year before.

This is the consequence of the Solar Bonus Scheme that was initiated by the NSW Government, ending on 31 December 2016. With the scheme paying households 60c or 20c per kilowatt an hour for the electricity they provided to the grid, many families benefited greatly.

Now, as the scheme has shut down, households have taken a hit, and with a battery costing $15,000 to install for the semi-retired couple, the Mullaly's believe that the outlay wouldn’t be worth it.

“We’ve got to watch what we spend, we haven’t got a lot of money coming in and we’ve got to weigh up the benefits,” said Lee Mullally.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) sets a recommended price for retailers, but it is not mandatory for retailers to follow. This year, the suggested benchmark dropped by 44 per cent due to below average wholesale electricity prices.

Solar expert and ShineHub co-founder Alex Georgiou said this year’s changes to feed-in tariff rates could see families losing around $300 a year on a 5-kilowatt system.

“If a person is not home to use solar power during the day, around 75 per cent of this is sent back to the grid,” he said.

While an average household could have earned $657 a year selling power to the grid at a price of 12 cents, this year, that price would drop to $355 if they get 6.5 cents.

When asked if she would consider a solar panelling system now, Mrs Mullaly said she would never do it without installing a battery first.

“If you are thinking about getting panels you need to get a battery because ultimately it will be a huge saving and will take the worry away.”

Do you have solar panelling on your home? Tell us in the comments below.