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More questions than answers have been raised by the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) draft determination aimed at integrating more small-scale solar and batteries into the electricity grid.

The Clean Energy Council says that the AEMC is proposing to allow networks to charge customers whenever they export from their solar or battery systems. However, there is still substantial detail required concerning the conditions and terms of any charges and how they would be implemented.

The package of reforms proposed by the AEMC is complex. The Clean Energy Council welcomes further detailed consultation to ensure that the regulations align with the overarching objective to support the increased installation of rooftop solar.

“It appears as though the all-important job of consumer protection has been passed to the states,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton.

“We need to know whether state and territory energy ministers will allow networks to charge customers whenever they export electricity to the grid and, if so, what customer protections will be put in place.”

Among the issues to be addressed for consumers are whether the new charging regime will be optional or mandatory; whether export charges will be applied to all existing customers or only to new connections; whether distribution networks will be allowed to continue imposing zero export limits for solar and battery systems; and whether states and territories give the relevant energy and water ombudsmen the ability to intervene if solar customers have complaints about networks.

It is also critical to understand whether distribution networks will be required to fix up their poor voltage management before this new regime comes into effect.