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Solar power and mandatory Peak/Off peak charging - Comedy of errors.

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by robsalvv, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Argggggghhhhh!!

    I put solar panels on my place in February. It's taken till August before Energy Australia got their f'cking house in order to properly reflect the solar generation on the account. It's been a series of documented phone calls to push their shit up hill to get their bureacratic processes in order.

    Finally a bill came reflecting some solar generated goodness... but it came as somewhat of a surprise that they changed the billing structure. They've shifted me to a peak/offpeak tarrif plan. WTF? Where did I sign up for that??

    Let me short circuit a week's worth of phone calls since the bill arrived.

    Me: Hi EA, thanks for finally recognising my Solar generation. Why have you shifted me to Pk/off pk tarrif.
    EA: It's got nothing to do with us, we have to because your power distributor says we have to.
    Me: Really, ok. Thanks.

    Me: Hi PowerCor, why have you told EA that because I have solar gen, they have to bill me mandatorily at Pk/off pk?
    PowerCor: Sorry Rob, we don't know what you're talking about. We're sending them 30min data blocks. It's got nothing to do with us. Talk to them again.
    Me: They're pretty adamant it's you driving them...
    PowerCor: Seriously, nothing to do with us. They are our customer, you are their customer. They are billing you.
    Me: Ok

    Me: Hi EA, back again. PowerCor say it's got nothing to do with them.
    EA: No seriously, it is to do with them, and it's also a government requirement. Our hands are tied.
    Me: Then why didn't you tell me this through all the other phone calls about my account in the last two months?
    EA: Sorry about that.

    Me: Hi PowerCor, it's me again. EA say their hands are tied. You are making them bill me at the Pk/Off pk tarrif and I want to know why.
    PowerCor: Um, Rob, it really has nothing to do with us.
    Me: They've said it's government policy, something to do with Time of Use legislation.
    PowerCor: TOU laws will come in sometime next year with the completion of the smart meter roll out. All we're doing is sending EA 30 min data blocks. How they bill you with that information is their matter, not ours.
    Me: They're adamant, so I want to raise an official complaint with yourselves.
    PowerCor: Even though we're your distributor, you can't do that. You'll have to have EA answer why they're billing you that way and raise a complaint with them. But while you're here I'll give you the ombudsmans number and the Department of Primary Industries who actually implement the government Solar policy.
    Me: Ok thanks.

    Me: Hi DPI. I have solar power and have signed up for the transitional premium solar tarrif. Why am I mandatorily on a peak/offpeak billing plan now. I'm told it's government policy.
    DPI: Um... Nofuggenidea. Let me have a look.
    DPI: There's no requirement that I can find that says that you must mandatorily be on a time of use billing plan if you have signed up for the transitional premiun tarrif.
    Me: Are you sure? Energy Australia is adamant.
    DPI: Pretty sure. TOU options aren't coming in till next year.

    Me: Hi EA, it's me again, and I'm a bit pissed off.
    EA: Sorry to hear that.
    Me: I want to know why you've mandatorily shifted me to a pk/off pk plan without my consent.
    EA: Because PowerCor told us too.
    Me: No they didn't. I'm your customer, they're giving you consumption data, it's up to you how you use it.
    EA: No I'm pretty sure it's because of them, because of how they're sending us the data.
    Me: Sorry that's not good enough. I want reference to a clause, a piece of legislation, a contract document, something that says that you must mandatorily bill me pk/off pk.
    EA: Ok, let me chat to a team leader.
    Me: I'm not going anywhere.
    EA: Ok, Team leader says it's because of PowerCor.
    Me: Are you guys daft? You can't just keep repeating the same thing hoping for a different outcome from me. I'm NOT accepting that.
    EA: No but it is PowerCor.
    Me: How can it be, you are billing me, not them. They're sending you my consumption data and you bill me. How can it be them telling you how to bill me.
    EA: Um... And anyway, if you look at your last bill, the pk/off pk billing saved you $5 this month.
    Me: You didn't just try to shift focus off my question did you??
    EA: Well it did save you $5.
    Me: I might choose to stay on this billing plan, but that's NOT the point.
    EA: Ok.
    Me: Can you or can't you give me a specific reference in writing that explains the apparent mandatory change in billing?
    EA: No.
    Me: But you said it was mandatory.
    EA: yes.
    Me: Ok, my next port of call is the energy ombudsman - but I'll give you a chance to resolve this matter.
    EA: But, but...
    Me: I want to register an official complaint so that this whole debacle is officially investigated. How do I do that?
    EA: I need to escalate this to our Customer Solutions department.
    Me: Customer solutions? Sweet, make it happen.
    EA: Ok. I'll just raise the incident now.
    Me: Great, what's the incident number? And when can I expect to hear a resolution?
    EA: #xxxxxxyyyyy and by the end of the week.
    Me: Thank **** for that.
    EA: Thanks for being so patient.
    Me: !#$@^@#%!#$^%&@#

    What a farking joke. Sometime this week, I should finally learn how I apparently either authorised them to change my plan or why they must mandatorily bill me pk/off pk.

  2. And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell ......
  3. LOL you got solar installed and only saved $5? i was considering getting solar installed...inbetween the piss poor saving's & the hassle you've gone through it's starting to look like a bad idea
  4. Awesome, I've always wanted my own bridge... lol

    What they're saying is if you take my actual consumption this quarter and applied the single tarrif, I've saved $5 by having been moved to the pk/off pk billing plan. That's all well and good, but that's not the point. If I spend one day at home sick during the week, forget to turn off the heater or some shit, I'll be worse off.

    As for whether Solar is worth it, I think it is. I'm not getting the premium feed in tariff, but I still managed to generate enough solar power so that my total bill this quarter was $25. In summer I'm expecting them to be paying me.

  5. so if you had not saved that $5 it would have cost you $30. Shit that would have meant you would have to sell your house and live in a cardboard box!!
  6. Is the bridge portable ?
  7. What sort of system do you have?

    My wife and I have been discussing getting solar for a while now
  8. Why of course it is! Just send me you bank account details and you will get an exclusive copy of my ebook on moving bridges.
  9. you lucky bastard. It took us 18 months and the Ombusdman to get Origin to bill our premium feed in tariff correctly. Just because they have to legally offer the premium rate it doesn't mean they have to make it easy...

    we went through a massive fiasco because originally we had an 'energy saver' tarrif which should have been changed when we first got the solar. It was only when we applied for the premium feed in tariff that Origin relised this, and then made us jump through hoops to get a smart meter fitted so they could change the tariff to the same peak/offpeak tariff you're talking about. To their credit they did eventually explain this, and for us the tariff is actually better (I think). Our issues were that they didn't seem to be able to make up the bill correctly - and mostly that there never seemed to be anyone in their solar department that could answer a phone. At least you got to actually talk to people even if they were all muppets

    FYI we only have a 1kW system and the last bill I can easily get my hands on (Dec-Mar) gave us 159kWh at 66c so ~$105 off the total
  10. ta for the correction there rob, apologies for the confusion - certainly seem's like the go then....especially considering my general carelessness regarding my electricity usage.
  11. I laughed out loud when I read that... 'customer solutions' are so special they need a special department, which presumably means that no-one else provides them :applause:.

    Positive phrasing positively failed.
  12. Cardboard ? LUXURY.
    In Adelaide,we live in Government rebated water tanks.
  13. atropos have you got that bridge ready?

    Customer solutions called me up and are they're saying that this is a simple fix, they can return me back to my normal billing plan. So why didn't their customer service team know?They're still saying that it was the network that initiated the change however...

    Despite the saga, the rapid turnaround once escalated was impressive.
  14. I'm a sparky and for the last 2 year's i have been installing solar. The reason you are automatically changed to what they refer to as "time of use" instead of you staying on the original flat rate plus off peak tarrif is that they can make more money out of you. I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say your on net metering with the 6cents feed back tarrif. During the day you get given 6cents per kwh you generate back into the grid. But when their peek times are on which they charge you around 44c a kwh. It's dark so you cannot produce your own power. Whoever installed your system should have done the nice thing and tell you to call your provider and tell them you don't want time of use.
  15. ch12matt, there's definitely something corrupt going on.

    I just rang around a few Energy Retailers and they've all said the same thing. If I'm on the transitional feed in tariff (which gives me a minimum 25c/kwh rebate for all power generated into the grid), Powercor requires me to be billed on a TOU peak/off peak plan.

    So I called them up.

    Me: Hi Powercor, you've lied to me. Yesterday you told me that you had nothing to do with me being shifted to a TOU plan, but a handful of retailers have told me that because I have solar power, you are requiring the energy retailer to bill me in TOU.
    Powercor: That's the agreement we have with energy retailers yes.
    Me: So it is your fault that my plan was changed without consent.
    Powercor: That's something your retailer should have told you.
    Me: Why must I be on a TOU plan simply because I have solar gen capacity.
    Powercor: We have to meet certain government requirements.
    Me: No sorry, I've spoke to the DPI, there is NO legislated requirement for TOU billing with solar generation.
    Powercor: We are regulated and all our plans are government approved.
    Me: But there's no legislated requirement for TOU billing with the transitional feed in tarrif, nor the premium feed in tarrif.
    Powercor: If you had been on the premium you would have definitely have been put on to TOU billing.
    Me: Why?
    Powercor: Because that's our agreement with the retailers.
    Me: Why? What difference does the power generation part make to the power consumption recording part?
    Powercor: That's how it is.
    Me: Why?
    Powercor: You have to talk to your retailers.
    Me: No I don't, I have to talk to you. You're telling all the retailer how they HAVE to bill me. It's not up to them.
    Powercor: If you're on the transitional or Premium feed in tariff, you have to be on a TOU plan.
    Me: Why?
    PowerCor: That's how it is.
    Me: That doesn't make any sense.
    PowerCor: If you want to have a single use tariff, you have to be on the standard solar tariff option.
    Me: What the hell is that?
    Powercor: Since you're on transitional feed in tariff, you have to be billed TOU. If you go to standard feed in tariff, you can go on a single plan, but we'll have to change your meter.
    Me: What the?
    PowerCor: The standard feed in tariff requires a twin element meter. The transitional and premium FIT's need a single element meter.
    Me: This sounds like gobbeldy gook.
    PowerCor: The standard FIT is 23c/kWh, the Transitional is 25c/kWh.
    Me: How the hell does either tariff make any practical difference to you measuring my consumption? Why does 2c make any difference in all this?
    PowerCor: It doesn't, but I can direct you to the meter wiring diagrams on our website.
    Me: What do the diagrams tell me?
    PowerCor: They tell you how the different meters should be wired up?
    Me: Why do they need to be wired up differently?
    Powercor: Something to do with how the power is metered.
    Me: Are you taking the piss?
    Powercor: These are your options, Standard FIT and Transitional FIT. Your energy retailer will have to let us know if you want to go to a plan that requires the Standard FIT and we'll change the meter.
    Me: That doesn't make any sense.
    PowerCor: That's how it is.
    Me: So all this time, EA were correct. They had NO choice but to bill me TOU because you the distributor have told them to.
    PowerCor: Yes.
    Me: But Four times in the last few weeks you've said that wasn't the case.
    PowerCor: Your retailer should have informed you that that's how it was.
    Me: Whether I have solar power or not, there's no practical difference to you measuring the amount of power I consume from the grid and getting the retailer to bill me for it.
    PowerCor: That's right.
    Me: And the only reason I have to be on a TOU plan is because you've said so simply because I'm on a Transitional FIT.
    PowerCor: Yes. But you can choose to be on the Standard FIT, and that way can go back to being on a single tariff plan if you wish.
    Me: And I lose 2c/kWh feed in tariff in the process.
    PowerCor: Yes, but you have the option.
    Me: So you in effect, are actually setting the rates and plans the retailer can offer, despite you telling me multiple times that's not true.
    PowerCor: Yes, that is the agreement we have with them. We charge them, they charge you.
    Me: So let me understand this... I can have a single tariff plan if I shift to standard solar FIT which rebates me a reduced feed in tariff for each kWh my cells generate.
    PowerCor: Yes.
    Me: So there's strictly no logical reason that solar generation capacity needs a TOU billing basis.
    PowerCor: No. But while you're on the transitional FIT, you must be on a TOU plan.
    Me: So the only reason I must be on a TOU plan is because you say so.
    PowerCor: Yes.
    ME: That's utterly bonkers. I'm going to complain to the ombudsman.
    PowerCor: Is there anything else I can help you with today?
    Me: !@#$@#$%^@#$$@!@#$%^@#
  16. Ok, Energy and Water Ombudsman complaint has been lodged.

    Based on my case number, there have been about 4800 complaints per month lodged this year. Geez!
  17. not sure how your TOU with EA is configured Rob, but for us with Origin it's actually a good thing. I understand that your beef is largely with the bullshit, crap customer service and surprise tariff change so good luck with the ombudsman on that score - they certainly helped us and our issues with Origin got resolved very quickly once they got involved.

    On the Origin premium feed in tariff we get 66c/kWh independant of whether its peak or off-peak. We don't use too much peak time electricity as we're all out during the weekdays, and washing machines etc are timed to come on overnight. Where we win is that Origin off peak runs from friday night right through to sunday night so all our weekend electricity useage is at 11c/kWh even though we continue to generate at 66c/kWh

    so I guess what I'm saying is don't automatically discount the TOU tariff just because you're pissed at Powercor - run the sums for yourself
  18. Hey Rob, you sure can tell the story well. I do feel for you though.

    Hope the ombudsman is able to earn their keep.
  19. Ok, so it's not life and death - there's just a principle involved now. I pulled on a loose thread and now want to see a conclusion. I can't see the logic in PowerCor's approach... unless it's to claw back some cash. So the wheels are now turning.

    I did run the numbers some time back Simon, on the single tariff plan, and given that the buy back rate was well more that the tariff charge, the numbers stacked up nicely. But now the peak charge is going to be well above the buy back rate, which changes the picture a bit. I'll crack open the spreadsheet and rerun the numbers.
  20. Rob
    I am never going yo argue with you
    Thats a promise.

    Also use plenty lube when your taking one
    ( so im told )