In response to concerns brought forward to us regarding difficulties with substandard transformers preventing households in rural or semi-rural areas from transitioning to solar power, we have received information from the Minister and have summarised below.
Energy QLD Ltd has statutory responsibility for ensuring the safe connection of new solar systems in QLD, with its subsidiary Energex responsible for connections in south east QLD. Energex works with the solar industry and the community to manage the connection of solar in such a way that balances the needs of the solar PV customer, with the need to ensure the reliability and efficiency of the whole network for the benefit of all customers.
The process for connecting solar PV panels to domestic rooftops in SEQLD, typically provides no restriction for systems up to 5 kilovolt amp (kVA) per phase. The majority of domestic rooftop PV systems installed in SEQLD fall within this size range.
Prior to a connection request being approved an ‘available line’ check (effectively a transformer rating check) is undertaken to determine if there is sufficient capacity for the full export from the proposed installation, for example if a request for a 10kVA solar PV system with full export is made, a check will be undertaken to determine if the full 10kVA can be exported. In instances where the transformer is found to be at or near capacity, Energex will always offer the option for 5kVA export.
Alternatively, a customer can cancel their existing application, and submit a new Supply Availability enquiry for a transformer upgrade via the same portal where applications are lodged or amended by customers. A fee of around $1500 may be applicable to carry out the required assessment for the transformer upgrade. The cost to upgrade the transformer for the customer’s solar PV installation benefit may be shared between the customer and Energex and this assessment is undertaken following application.
Where the request is greater than 5kVA per phase, the site is assessed to determine whether the connection to the grid can be made without risk of breaching network supply standards. Options to remove export constraints at a particular site will most likely involve network augmentation and a customer contribution towards the cost of this augmentation.