Solar panels buying guide

Install a system that produces carbon-free energy and insulates you from rising coal-fired electricity prices.
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04.Feed in tariffs

A feed-in tariff is what you’re paid for energy you feed into the national electricity grid. The key distinction between feed-in tariff plans, apart from their rates, is whether you’re paid for all the energy you feed in (called a ‘gross metering’ system), or just the difference between the amount of energy your household uses and what it produces (‘net metering’).

Gross metering

Gross metering is best for households because it means you’re paid the higher rate for all the electricity you produce. That system has been used in most countries where solar power has been successful. It currently applies in just ACT and NSW.



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Net metering

With net metering, you don’t know what you’ll get paid so it’s hard to estimate your system’s payback time — a disincentive to investing in solar panels. You’ll probably be paid less under net metering, because if your household appliances are being used at the same time as the panels are generating electricity (during the day), the ‘net’ effect is you’d be exporting little energy to the grid.

Feed in tariffs state by state

StateModel Rate paid (Per kWh)Max sizeProgram Duration Commencement
ACT Gross
50.05c (up to 10kW); 40.04c (up to 30kW);
Under 10 kW - premium rate; over 10kW - 80% of premium rate; over 30 kW - TBC 20 years  March 2009
10kW 20 years July 2008
NSW Gross
10kW 7 years January 2010
60c (credit only)
5kW 15 years 2009
SA Net
10kW 20 years July 2008
WA Net
TBC TBC August 2010
TBC TBC 2009
NT Net
45.76c (Capped at $5 per day, then reverts to 23.11c per kWh)
TBC TBC Available for 225 rooftop PV systems in Alice Springs.

Source and CHOICE research.

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