Solar panels may cost all households
Solar panels

WA households could have to pay a higher fixed charge for their electricity bills under a shake-up that would be aimed at recouping the spiralling cost of solar panels to the network.

Amid concern from Western Power that households with solar panels are not paying their share of the grid's upkeep costs, it is understood the State Government may look at reforming the structure of bills.

One option likely to be considered is charging a higher service fee, which currently amounts to 41.5� a day, or about $150 a year, for household customers of Synergy and Horizon. To offset the increase, the Government would lower variable charges, which according to last year's State Budget account for $1443 of the typical household electricity bill a year.

However, though households which cut their electricity use would not necessarily be worse off under such a change - and might be better off - those unable to cut their use could be slugged even more.

The possible reform is expected to be discussed as part of the energy roundtable convened by former energy minister Peter Collier to consider ways of reforming the State's electricity sector.

Although the forum has met only once since it was established in October, there were predictions it would be maintained under Mike Nahan as Energy Minister.

The boss of Western Power, Paul Italiano, warned in October that households with solar panels were able to shirk paying their fair share for the upkeep of WA's network of poles and wires.

Mr Italiano said households with photovoltaic cells drew less energy from the grid and so had lower electricity bills, despite needing the same level of service as people without the systems.

The West Australian

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