What do I need to know about solar panels?
Solar panels are becoming a popular way for people to generate their own electricity.
More New Zealanders are choosing to put solar panels on their homes as a way to generate their own electricity. We have collated some key information to help consumers be better prepared for conversations. Please note the information on this page does not constitute advice or guidance from the Electricity Authority—please do your own research.
Where do I start?
If you want to install solar panels, you should weigh up the potential costs against the potential savings.
You could also get quotes from more than one solar panel provider, and ask solar panel providers to confirm the warranty period, the expected lifetime of parts, and any maintenance costs.
What do my retailer and lines company do?
If you install solar panels but you remain connected to the grid, you will still have a relationship with your retailer and lines company.
You may be able to either gift or sell any excess electricity to your retailer (it must be the same retailer that you buy electricity from; it can’t be two different retailers). Each retailer sets its own ‘buy-back’ prices. If you want to sell excess electricity, you’ll need to have an agreement with your retailer.
So, it can be helpful to:
- ask your retailer to provide your electricity usage data, so you can understand how much electricity your household uses (before and after you install solar panels)
- use the Powerswitch website to see which retailers operate in your area, so you can then contact each retailer to compare buy-back rates
- ask your retailer to confirm if your electricity meter can measure (a) electricity imported from the solar panels to your property and (b) electricity exported from the solar panels to the local network
- ask your lines company or an electrician to tell you how many phases your house has, and also ask the solar panel provider to tell you how many phases the solar panels have.
What does the Authority do?
We are neutral when it comes to different sources of electricity generation. For example, we don’t promote hydro or solar over another form of electricity generation. Likewise, we don’t favour one type of technology, such as solar panels or batteries, over another.
We work to reduce operational costs and barriers to new technologies and business models entering the market. We are working on:
- ensuring lines companies have efficient systems for pricing their goods and services
- ensuring consumers benefit from innovation and new technology by identifying any unnecessary barriers which may be standing in the way.
We promote competition so that electricity prices are reasonable. We don’t set electricity prices or buy-back rates.
We’re responsible for ensuring that participants follow the rules set out in the Code. Part 6 of the Code includes information about the rights and responsibilities for owners of small-scale generation (such as solar panels).
Who can help me if I have a complaint?
If there is a problem with your solar panels, you should firstly pursue a complaint through the solar panel provider’s complaints process. But if your complaint is not resolved, you can also contact the Commerce Commission or Citizens Advice Bureau to get advice on your rights as a consumer.
If your complaint relates to your retailer or distributor, you should firstly pursue a complaint through the company’s complaints process. If your complaint is not resolved, you can contact Utilities Disputes Limited, a free and independent dispute resolution service.