NSW Wants to Cut Red Tape for Solar Power Installs

The NSW Government wants suggestions on how to smooth the way for households and businesses to install solar power and battery systems.

It plans to update the State Environmental Planning Policy (EPP) to adapt to the demand for commercial solar power to cut business costs and diminish carbon emissions.

The original policy was issued in 2007 and its limitations reflect the technology of 12 years ago. Today, businesses and households can install much larger solar arrays. In addition, the cost of batteries has also reduced.

Now the government is seeking community comment on its Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) “to facilitate the efficient delivery of renewable electricity infrastructure in NSW”.

Electricity storage key to renewables

Electricity storage will play an increasing role in the transition to clean energy. The government wants to amend the Environmental Planning Policy to include batteries.

Importantly, this means that wherever planning is permitted for new wind or solar power infrastructure, batteries can also be considered.

Batteries would, therefore, fit into established policies and regulations governing solar power.

Exempt development category widened

Also being considered is the freeing up of installations in the “exempt development” category. These are installations that do not need planning approval. In the residential sector in NSW, these include garden sheds and carports.

Currently, a system 10kW–100kW must have development planning approval under the EPP. The government proposes changing this to allow installation without development consent. This would free up investment in larger solar arrays.

It’s suggested that arrays over 100kW also be exempt development, “while maintaining protection against inappropriately large developments through the existing assessment process undertaken by planning authorities.”

Acknowledging renewable energy impact

The EIE report cites the “unprecedented popularity” of solar PV and batteries as the reason for its loosening of EPP rules.

It cites a case study showing how commercial battery installation is firming up solar power in WA.

A 105kW PowerBank battery in Meadow Springs stores power from 52 rooftop solar systems. Participating residents then draw power from the battery at night or on overcast days.

The EPP amendments will allow batteries like PowerBank to be installed in NSW without development approval. This streamlines the process and makes an investment in electricity infrastructure more appealing to investors.

You can make a submission to the EIE by completing the online feedback form on the Energy Department’s website, or by written submission to [email protected]

Meanwhile, NSW residents can already get rooftop solar without state government red tape. By receiving a number of federal Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), households get a discount on the upfront cost of installation. The average-sized residential solar system can pay for itself in 3-5 years and could save you around $500 on a quarterly power bill.

Contact us to set up a free consultation to find out how solar panels and a battery can save you money and help reduce carbon emissions.

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