Solar electricity plans: 6 things to look for

As a solar owner, you’ve invested in cheaper, cleaner electricity for your home. So it’s important you’re on an energy plan that allows you to get the most out of your solar investment.

With so many power companies and different rates on the market, it can be hard to know where to start. So here are 6 things to look for when choosing a solar electricity plan.

1. Understand your rate structure

When it comes to rates, it’s not just the number that matters. Before looking at the price, it’s important to understand your rate structure so you know you’re comparing apples to apples.

There are three main types of rate structures: single/anytime rate, time of use, and flexible.

On a single/anytime rate, you pay one price for electricity throughout the day. On a time of use or flexible tariff, the price you pay will vary depending on the time of day. You can find out more about rate structures here

When comparing electricity deals, make sure you’re looking at the rate structure that applies to your home. Single/anytime is the default rate structure so, if you’ve never requested to change your rate structure, that’s probably what you’re on.

If you think you’d be better off on a different rate structure, you can ask your power company to change once you sign up. Simply let them know which rate structure you’d like to move to.

2. Look at the rate pricing & solar feed-in tariff

Now that you know which rate structure works best for you, you can look at the prices.

It’s important to look at all of the rates together, rather than picking out one or two costs in isolation. For example, many solar households look for the highest solar feed-in tariff but don’t realise high feed-in tariffs usually have to be offset with higher usage charges and daily rates

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to rates. Households that export lots of solar power might be happy to pay a bit more for electricity in return for a higher feed-in tariff, while households that use most of their solar power in their home might benefit from prioritising lower usage and daily charges.

3. Are there additional incentives on offer?

Some electricity deals come with additional incentives when you sign up. For example, you might get an extra credit on your bill when you sign up, access to exclusive memberships or even movie tickets.

While usually not the first thing to look for, these can be an added bonus especially if you’re tossing up between two comparable energy plans.

4. Avoid lock-in contracts and exit fees

Some energy plans lock you in for a set period of time or charge you a fee when you switch away. That might not seem like a big deal, but earlier this year the ABC reported that Australians are missing out on $500 million worth of savings because they haven’t switched to a better energy deal.

Energy pricing is continually changing, so what is the best deal now probably won’t be a few months or years from now. Be aware of which plans will lock you in and which give you the freedom to switch when it suits you.

5. Does the plan align with your values?

We often talk about ethical investing and superannuation, but the same goes for energy.

Why did you get solar panels? Was it to reduce your energy bill? To do your bit for the environment?

If supporting clean, renewable energy is important to you, find out which power companies support renewable energy and which companies own coal-fired power stations. Many companies also have a GreenPower option available, which means they’ll purchase GreenPower from renewable sources equivalent to 100% of your electricity usage.

6. Solar services

When it comes to electricity deals, some plans offer solar households more value than others. Does the plan you’re looking at provide any services, insights or monitoring tools to help you use your solar power better and save more?

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