Connecting solar

Here you will find information about connecting solar to the ActewAGL network. If you have any questions, you can call our technical advice line on 6248 3555.

General information

Generally, when you purchase your system the installer that you choose will arrange a suitably qualified electrician and complete the application forms required to secure the necessary approvals and conduct the work.

Do your research.

  • Make sure you contact your electricity retailer before purchasing your system so that you fully understand any tariff changes that may apply after solar is installed.
  • Make sure you choose an installer who is Clean Energy Council approved.
  • All external PV panels in the ACT must be installed by a licensed electrician. It is worth making sure that your installer is compliant or will arrange an electrician to install the panels on your behalf.

Verify that your installer will do the following.

  • Gain building approval from ACT Planning and Land Authority (if required).
  • Complete a connection request form which contains key information about your installation and submit it to us.
  • Contact ACT Planning and Land Authority to inform them of the electrical work taking place.
  • Conduct installation and arrange ACT Planning and Land Authority inspection and approval.
  • Commission and test your installation after meeting with ActewAGL on-site to install the appropriate metering arrangement.

ActewAGL will complete the following during the process.

  • Check that your system complies with our installation rules and is suitable to operate on our network.
  • Meet your installer on-site and install the appropriate metering arrangement.
  • Notify your electricity retailer of the completion of all electrical work. Note: it is best that you contact your retailer to make sure you are receiving the best price for the electricity you generate.

Detailed step by step guide

These are the steps taken during the selection and installation of your solar product.

Step 1 - Choose your installer

The first step is to choose your installer. A current list of accredited installers is available at the Clean Energy Council Accredited website.

Step 2 - Select / design a solar system

Your installer will select or design a Solar system to meet your requirements.

Step 3 - Check if development and/or building approval is required from ACTPLA

Some PV installations may require development or building approval from ACTPLA. Check if your PV installation will need approval.

 If approval is required then you must gain this approval before the process can continue. If approval is denied the process effectively goes back to step 2.

Step 4 - Complete a special connection request form

You, in conjunction with your installer must complete and return to ActewAGL a Special Connection Request form. This form contains key information about your PV installation. You can download the Special Connection Request form (PDF), submit a Special Connection Request online or contact ActewAGL on 6293 5749 for a copy.

At this stage in the process you can contact your electricity retailer to discuss Feed-In Tariffs available.

Step 5 - Gain approval from ActewAGL

ActewAGL will check that your PV system complies with ActewAGL’s Service and Installation Rules. Then, if the PV system is network compatible ActewAGL's approval will be given and a letter of approval will be sent to the owner.

Approval may be denied because the PV system contains a non-compliant component. In this case, the non-compliant component of the PV system will need to be reselected or redesigned. Approval may also be denied because a network upgrade is required to accommodate the PV system. In this case you will have to wait for the required work to be completed before continuing the connection process.

If approval is denied the process effectively goes back to step 2.

Step 6 - Contact ACTPLA

Your installer/electrician will contact ACTPLA and inform them of the electrical work taking place. At this stage the installer/electrician may begin to carry out installation of the PV system. However they cannot complete the work until ACTPLA has inspected and approved the installation and ActewAGL have set-up the required metering arrangement by either installing a second meter or replacing the existing meter.

Step 7 - ACTPLA inspection

Your installer/electrician will inform ACTPLA when work has reached a point where the PV installation can be inspected. Here ACTPLA will carry out an inspection of the wiring and other electrical work. If the requirements of this inspection are met ACTPLA will leave an approval sticker in the meter box.

Step 8 - Request for an appointment

The electrician must submit a Request for service form. The electrician can download a Request for service form (PDF) or complete a Request for service form online. The form must be submitted to ActewAGL and an appointment made to install the meter. The electrician can submit this form at any time between steps 3 and step 6. It is at this point that ActewAGL knows your PV installation is proceeding and that you will require a new meter or meter replacement soon.

Step 9 - Installation of new metering equipment

ActewAGL will meet the installer/electrician on-site to install the appropriate metering arrangement. If all the steps above were completed, then ActewAGL will be ready to connect the PV system to the network.

Step 10 - Installer completes your installation

The installer/electrician will now commission and test the PV installation.

Step 11 - ActewAGL notifies retailers of successful installation

ActewAGL will notify your electricity retailer of the completion of all electrical work. This is done via a national business-to-business process where an electronic notification is sent to the retailer informing them of the new meter, date installed and the revised default tariffs.

Step 12 - Customer is switched to the default "Solar Generation" tariff

Your retailer will make the necessary changes to your account. If you want to ensure you are receiving the premium price for the electricity generated, you should contact your electricity retailer immediately.

Your next retail electricity invoice will record both exported and imported electricity.

Frequently asked questions

What are solar panels?

A 'solar panel' is an interconnected assembly of solar cells which convert energy from sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are often referred to as a photovoltaic (PV) panel. The term 'photovoltaic' is simply a combination of the prefix 'photo', meaning from light, and the word 'voltaic', which means to produce a voltage or electric current.

Most PV panels in domestic applications are approximately 0.5 metres wide by 1.2 metres long. Typically a module this size will generate around 80 watts of power under full sunlight. However, as PV technology matures increasing quantities of output power per cell are being produced.

An installation of multiple PV panels is known as a PV array.

For cost and practicality reasons the PV cells in a PV panel are connected electrically, while PV panels are simply connected mechanically to form a field-installable PV array unit. Usually glass covers the array to provide protection from the local elements.

Can I have PV panels on my roof?

In order to install PV panels on the roof of your home, business etc. there are a few things you need to consider.

  • Space — is their sufficient space available to site your panels?
  • Strength — is your roof strong enough to support the panels (roof strength is generally not an issue but still needs to be considered.)?
  • Permission — local authorities (such as the ACT Planning and Land Authority — ACTPLA) may insist on planning permission, especially in conservation areas or on heritage-listed buildings.

Once these matters have been negotiated, there are several other considerations to be made before installation can begin. These include aspects of fitting such as the orientation and tilt of the system.

Will my meter box need to be modified?

Customers are responsible for ensuring adequate space to accommodate the new metering arrangement in their meter box. Your installer/electrician will be able to tell you whether your meter box will need an upgrade. This is not a problem for most new meter boxes (common size is usually 600mm × 600mm), but there are some smaller boxes which may need to be modified. Any meter box upgrade work is done by an installer/electrician at the customer's expense.

What happens to the electricity in my house?

During the day, when the sun is shining, your PV array is producing and supplying electricity into ActewAGL's distribution network. Your house is supplied from ActewAGL's distribution network during the day as well as at night when the sun is no longer shining. If you have signed up for "green energy" with your chosen retailer, then the percentage of your energy you have nominated to make "green" is being accessed only from the renewable energy in the network (for example solar and wind power).

How much energy will I be able to produce?

This depends on a number of factors. The most significant factor is the size of your PV system, referred to as the installed capacity. Other important factors that affect the power output include the location of the PV array, its orientation and how well it is maintained (dirt on the PV cells is heavily detrimental to power output).

A typical energy efficient family home in Canberra uses between 15 and 20 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, or 5500 to 7500kWh per year. Modest homes using natural gas for hot water, heating and cooking tend to use even less (around 4000 kWh per year).

For the latest data regarding expected generation refer to the Clean Energy Regulator website.

What are my maintenance responsibilities?

All protection devices, control systems and equipment associated with the PV system and its connection to the ActewAGL distribution network is the customer's responsibility to maintain. ActewAGL will issue a letter on the expected due date advising of the testing required to comply to our rules. Your installer will be able to provide you with information to any other maintenance requirements.

What electricity tariffs can I participate in?

You can find the details of solar tariff arrangements by contacting your chosen electricity retailer.

What agreements do I need to enter into?

There are several agreements that you are required to enter into.

Customers will be required to agree to the terms of a Renewable Energy Generator Connection Contract with ActewAGL Distribution outlining the mutual obligations and technical requirements. Commissioning and connection of your PV installation will not be permitted until this agreement is in place.

In addition to this your chosen electricity retailer may also have an agreement which you will need to enter into. It is important to note that this is a different agreement to the one you will need to enter into with ActewAGL Distribution.

How long does the whole process take?

The time for the whole process to be completed is variable. It depends mostly upon the workload of your installer/electrician and when ACTPLA can inspect your PV installation.

After your installer/electrician has designed your PV system and initiated the approval process, they must contact ActewAGL in order to arrange an on-site meeting to reconfigure the metering arrangement. ActewAGL endeavours to set this meeting date to carry out the necessary work within two weeks of being contacted by your installer/electrician, or on whatever date they nominate. However, the final connection to the network of your PV system will not take place until ACTPLA has completed an inspection. The earlier the installer/electrician contacts ActewAGL and ACTPLA, the earlier all parties can coordinate the on-site work around the physical installation of the PV system on your roof.

Where can I get more information?

Listed below are some links to useful sites where you can get more information on domestic PV power generation.

Clean Energy Regulator

Clean Energy Council