Gas firm seeks sunny side of WA
Gas giant Alinta Energy has seen the future – announcing that it will offer solar and battery storage systems to households later this year.
The company currently supplies gas to households, but will soon reveal a plan to invest in residential solar power.
The roll-out will begin in Western Australia.
Eighteen per cent of WA households have photovoltaic solar systems (PV) installed, and solar power already accounts for 9.3 per cent of total energy production on the South West grid.
Alinta appears to be sinking its teeth into the fertile market, offering systems with a range of funding options.
Reports say these could involve leasing or selling the solar and battery systems to consumers.
But there is a hitch - current legislation means Alinta is technically not allowed to supply electricity to customers with usage under 50 megawatt hours per year, but the WA government is expected to open up the market to full retail contestability in mid-2018.
Insiders allege that the retailer will bypass the problem by entering into “power purchase agreements” with householders, under its existing electricity licence.
Such an agreement could let Alinta sell households the capacity or infrastructure to generate solar power, but not actual electricity.
Director of the Australian Institute of Energy and economic consultant Murray Meaton said in an interview with the ABC that Alinta was moving to fulfil growing consumer demand.
“The early adopters are already keenly looking at this alternative and when Alinta is able to offer this in a fully contestable market, we'll see quite a rapid uptake from people excited to potentially disconnect from the grid,” Mr Meaton said.
WA Energy Minister Mike Nahan has indicated he is aware of Alinta's plans and is fully supportive of them.