Competition for customers intensifies as payments for excess solar power are confirmed

Competition for homes with surplus solar power for sale is finally heating up as at least ten companies are now offering purchase plans and tariffs.

One company, Pinergy, today increased its previously announced rate, bringing its first payday forward by three months.

The move comes amid criticism that electricity companies have failed to implement the small-power generator — or microgenerator — program signed by the government last February.

Pinergy, which was the first to confirm an offer, announced last May that it would pay customers 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).

It was to be paid in the form of loans to offset part of their electricity bills from January next year, but retrospectively to the government’s announcement in February.

The company announced today that it is increasing its tariff to 21 cents per kWh and that the credits will be applied for immediately and each month thereafter.

This is the highest rate offered to date. The other companies that have confirmed their tariff to the Energy Regulator are: Electric Ireland 14c, Bord Gais 18.5c, Energia 18c, SSE Airtricity 14c, Flogas 20c, Prepay Power 14c, EcoPower 14c, Community Power 13.5c and Arden Energy 17.5c .

Panda Power had announced an offer of 17.5c but is exiting the Irish energy market. Of the others, EcoPower was the only one that had started making payments to customers.

The others wanted to start by the end of November at the latest.

Known as the “Clean Export Guarantee,” the scheme requires electric companies to pay domestic customers with solar panels or other clean energy systems for excess electricity they “export” to the national grid during periods when they are producing more than they can immediately consume “.

Households without storage batteries to store excess electricity at night or at other times when there is little solar radiation have so far given it away free of charge through their grid connection.

The Environment Department said the energy regulator, the Utility Regulation Commission, has urged companies to finalize the details of payments to customers “as soon as possible”.

Around 25,000 homeowners have applied to participate in the program. They must first be approved by ESB Networks to ensure their grid connection is suitable, but their subsequent dealings will be with their electricity supplier.

Numbers are expected to rise as the government has pledged to maintain grants for solar panel installation for the foreseeable future and energy bills continue to rise.

Pinergy said it increased its rate to reflect rising wholesale energy prices.

Enda Gunnell, the company’s CEO, said they are very pleased with the response to the program so far.

“We already have several hundred customers who are supplied by Pinergy and export their surplus energy,” he said.

“The interest shown in the program demonstrates the willingness of customers to make a positive contribution to a more sustainable energy future.”

Revenue from the program will vary widely, but based on UK experience, the average household using a small array of solar panels could expect to reduce their electricity needs by at least 25 per cent and receive at least €150 in credits in a year. Competition for customers intensifies as payments for excess solar power are confirmed

Fry Electronics Team

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