Plico Team 14/03/2022 6 min read

New WA emergency solar rules: what are they and how are you affected?

In February 2022 the WA Government introduced new rules that will allow remote management of solar systems in the event of emergency situations. We’re taking a look at the specifics, and what it could mean for your solar system.

 

What has changed? 

In February 2022, the WA Government introduced new Emergency Solar Management rules allowing network operators to take control of private household and business inverters. This means they will be able to switch off residential solar systems as an emergency grid stabilisation measure.

These changes apply to new and upgraded solar + battery systems as of February 14, 2022, with inverters with a capacity of 5kW or less. Existing systems will not be affected.

 

Why has it changed?

Over recent years, the WA energy sector has seen huge growth in demand and uptake of renewable technology. Every month, around 3,000 homes install rooftop solar, with solar now generating more energy than any other source in WA. This means there are fundamental changes to the way the traditional grid is being used.

Supply and demand of solar energy can fluctuate throughout the day and the season. With this uncontrolled and unpredictable reality, the existing power system is placed under pressure in its reliability, security and affordability.

WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the changes will enable continued uptake of rooftop solar panels on homes, and help avoid blackouts.

 

What do I need to know?

The new rules are designed to be emergency measures only, and are not expected to be used frequently or for long periods of time. Households are only to be impacted as a last resort, after other large scale measures have been implemented in the event of an emergency, and to prevent loss of electricity within the grid. After SA introduced similar rules in 2020, they were first used in March 2021.

If household systems are turned off, they will continue to receive electricity supply from the grid.

These measures are being put in place to allow continued uptake of solar systems without increasing costs, and to ensure stability of the grid.

Other long term measures are being planned to facilitate the transition to renewable energy sources.

What does this mean for me if I'm switching to solar?

If you are planning to install solar after March 14 2022, your inverter will be equipped with remote management capability. This is the case for all installations throughout WA, as per the new rules.

This means that in the event of an emergency - such as an oversupply of solar energy and a reduced demand on the traditional grid - your system may be remotely managed to ensure stability of the grid. The WA Government advises it’s likely to be no more than a few times a year, for a few hours at a time.

The reason for the change is to prevent widespread power interruptions.

This means fewer blackouts. This also means solar installations can continue and the community at large can continue to enjoy the benefits of widespread uptake of solar technology.

What does this actually mean for the household?

In terms of what’s possible, inverters may be shut off a few times per year for the peak solar production window of 10am - 2pm.

At the high end, lost savings could amount to a maximum of $5 per event.

This is hardly a deterrent with only $5-$10 per year of savings lost, but on the positive note, a more secure and reliable electricity grid.

With a Plico solar + battery solution, you get the benefits of producing, storing and using your own sustainable energy without the big upfront cost. Not only do you reduce your environmental footprint, but you protect your household from blackouts and outages. Are you considering switching to solar? Want to speak to someone about how these changes might affect you? Talk to one of the switched on people at Plico or call 1300 175 426.

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