How do I connect solar and other small generators to the Essential Energy network?
Before you commit to purchasing or upgrading a small generator it is important to understand all costs associated with system installation, system costs, metering costs and if applicable, any network upgrade requirements.
Visit our Getting Started page for an overview of the application process for new and altered connections, including for solar and battery storage. We will assess your application to determine whether the local network is able to accommodate your system.
Contact your retailer regarding metering requirements and an Accredited Service Provider (ASP) if any network upgrades are required. If your system is approved by Essential Energy, work with your supplier and retailer to arrange the installation of your system and any required metering.
Once a Certificate of Compliance for Electrical Work (CCEW) is received Essential Energy may choose to inspect your system. In certain circumstances systems energised and connected to our distribution network may be deemed unsafe if they do not comply with Australian Standards. This may result in disconnection from Essential Energy’s network.
For further information about the connection process call us on 132391.
What can be connected to Essential Energy’s network?
Any small generation device that meets Australian Standards (AS4777 Grid Connection of Energy System via Inverters) can be permanently connected to the national electricity network, including our distribution network. While small scale solar photovoltaic systems have been the most popular installations, we are now experiencing an increased number of applications for a variety of energy generation systems of differing types and scales. It is important to check with your system provider to confirm the option you select meets current Australian Standards before committing to your purchase.
Who can help me with my new small generator?
The installer of your small generation system must be a Clean Energy Council Accredited Installer. You may also need to work with a number of parties to purchase, install, connect and approve your new system. Here is a short overview of who does what:
- Processes network applications for connections and authorises network connections
- Performs connection inspections and system audits
- Collects data readings for the National Electricity Market (NEM)
- Supplies ripple receivers to ASPs and manages network load.
Clean Energy Council Accredited Installers:
- System design, including customised generation systems
- System installation (must have an A grade electricians license)
Accredited Service Providers:
- Licensed electrical contractors who are authorised to complete service works such as service connections and general electrical works.
- Licensed Electrical Contractors able to complete general wiring and installation works such as cabling, switchboard works, excluding service works.
- Provide competitive energy offers and Agreements
- Set-up energy rates for import, export and time of use
- Bill customers for their energy and apply any rebates
- Arrange installation of Smart Metering.
The installation, connection and metering of your small generation system must comply with:
- NSW Service and Installation Rules
- AS3000 Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules
- National Electricity Rules
Where can I find a designer/installer of renewable energy systems?
To find an accredited supplier visit the Clean Energy Council website. The Council maintains a list of accredited installers who can assist you. A handy consumer guide to buying solar systems is also available - Guide to installing solar for households or Find an installer.
It’s important to remember you need to engage an ASP to complete any service work (except for metering) associated with your system; metering work will need to be organised through your retailer; and electrical work can be performed by any licensed electrical contractor.
What should I consider before I purchase my micro embedded generator?
If you’re interested in connecting a micro embedded generator to our network for the first time, or you want to upgrade or connect a larger system to the network, it’s necessary to submit an Application For Low Voltage Connection form to Essential Energy for approval. This is required so we can assess whether your local network can accommodate your system. It also allows an accurate record of connections to be kept.
In response to your application you’ll be advised whether your system is suitable to connect to the network. In some instances, powerline upgrades or new transformers may be required to support your system. In the event your local network needs to be upgraded you may be required to pay a contribution towards the work – this is something we’d discuss with you.
What are Essential Energy’s arrangements for export limits?
Essential Energy applies maximum export limits at connection points to ensure that all customers are not negatively impacted by newly installed solar systems and to ensure that a safe and reliable network is maintained. If a higher maximum export limit is required, then the customer has the ability to increase the capacity of their local network to ensure the network voltage stays within required limits.
If a customer wishes to change the maximum export limit at a connection point then a connection application is to be submitted with the proposed level of export at the connection point.
What if I want to install a larger system or make changes to my existing system?
Your nominated installer or Accredited Service Provider (ASP) will be able to provide you with further advice depending on the changes you’re planning to make.
Make sure you tick off the following steps before you change your system size:
- I have engaged an installer. They have been to my premises, recommended a suitably sized system and I have received an estimate inclusive of all costs
- A new Application For Low Voltage Connection form to increase my system size has been submitted to Essential Energy and I have my approval and connection offer
- I have contacted my retailer regarding metering arrangements
- I have spoken to my retailer and understand what changes will occur to my existing energy rates
- I have documented all costs, charges and changes associated with my system change.
What are the maintenance and inspection requirements?
We inspect new renewable energy installations on a sample basis after receiving a CCEW from your installer.
In certain circumstances, systems energised and connected to our distribution network that are unsafe or do not comply with Australian Standards may require disconnection from Essential Energy’s network.
Under the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2017 (NSW) it is your responsibility to ensure your small generation system is kept in a safe and serviceable state. Servicing and maintenance of your small generation system must be carried out by an appropriately qualified person, generally this would be a Clean Energy Council Approved installer.
Remote Control of your small generation system
There are no requirements under the energy laws in NSW relating to the installation of remote control equipment. However Essential Energy is currently running limited trial programs involving the installation and operation of remote control equipment on small generators. Under the trials the remote control equipment is being operated in the following instances:
- Requesting scheduled charge or discharge of energy storage systems
- Setting automated charge or discharge of energy storage systems based on network conditions
- Requesting curtailment of generation based on network conditions
- Requesting reactive power contribution based on network conditions
Essential Energy is in contact with the customers participating in the trials to ensure the customers are not being negatively impacted.
What are my other rights and obligations concerning my connection and small generator?
- Generators connected to the network via a delta/star transformer with the delta on the network side may have their neutral directly connected to earth (i.e. via an MEN link). Effective isolation of this neutral may be required to inhibit the flow of harmonics through the neutral and the generator’s method to limit harmonics must be discussed and agreed to by Essential Energy. The use of 4-pole switching may be required if the generator can operate in standby mode
- Solar installations above 100kW using multiple inverters will generally require an upstream circuit breaker with appropriate protection (including anti islanding) to ‘back-up’ the individual inverter protection
- All multiple inverter installations must have a single point of isolation at their connection (aggregation) point
- For ‘Non-Inverter’ generation systems ie synchronous and induction machines, a protection report prepared by a protection engineer, including a maintenance plan if battery storage is incorporated will be required
- The power factor of the customer’s installation must meet the minimum requirement of 0.9 lagging to unity as required under the Service and Installation Rules of NSW. For inverter-based systems Essential Energy may require the inverters to be set to leading power factor in some situation