With the ongoing popularity of solar photovoltaic (PV) and other micro embedded generating (micro EG) units, we are working collaboratively with the PV industry to manage any impacts to customers and our network.
The National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) came into effect in Queensland on 1 July 2015 and has a significant impact on the micro EG unit connection application process. NECF is a set of national laws, rules and regulations that have been developed under cooperative arrangements between the State and Australian Governments.
As a retailer, installer or electrical contractor in the PV industry, you play an important role in guiding our customers through the purchase, installation and connection process.
Lodge an application to connect
All micro EG units - including solar PV, wind and hydro units and batteries - that are to be connected to our network, whether exporting or non-exporting, must be approved by Ergon Energy Network before installation. We ask that you ensure your customers are aware of this requirement.
To begin, you'll need to submit an online connection application via our Electrical Partners Portal. There is also a PDF Application for Network Connection of a Micro EG Unit (PDF 662.9 kb) available for emailing and faxing, though online submissions are preferred.
However, if you're planning to install an embedded generating unit larger than 30 kVA capacity, please apply through our Major Customer Connections group.
The applicant does not have to be the electricity account holder and can act with the authority of the customer to receive the offer (approval) or options. However, the final signed contract (even if executed by the applicant on behalf of the customer) remains between Ergon Energy Network and the retail customer (electricity account holder).
Those making the application for the customer also take on the responsibility to liaise with them and with us, keeping their customer informed about the application's status.
Application forms for Ergon Energy and Energex are not interchangeable. Please ensure you apply to the distributor to whose network you intend to connect the micro EG unit.
Incorrect forms will not be considered and a new application will be required. It is also critical that the correct National Metering Identifier (NMI) is entered in the application. It can be found on the customer's electricity bill.
If you apply for the connection of a micro EG unit with a total inverter capacity below the thresholds detailed below in 'Assess applications', it will typically qualify for a Basic Connection Service. This means it can be offered on the terms of our Model Standing Offer (MSO).
We classify a connection as Basic when the connection of the proposed unit requires minimal or no network augmentation. The specific Basic Connection Services offered by us are set out in the Schedule to the relevant MSO.
Where the connection may be a Basic Connection Service, an applicant can choose at the time of application to 'expedite' the MSO, meaning they can provisionally accept the terms and conditions on behalf of the customer.
We will notify the applicant within 10 business days of receiving the completed application whether the requested connection service is, or is not, a Basic Connection Service. So, even if the applicant chooses to expedite, the connection may not ultimately qualify as a Basic. Therefore, the installation of the micro EG unit must not proceed until the applicant receives our confirmation.
If it is a Basic Connection Service and the applicant does not elect to expedite a MSO when given the choice, we will, within 10 business days of receiving the completed application, send the applicant a MSO. The offer must be accepted within 45 business days or it will lapse.
A negotiated connection for inverter capacity up to 30 kVA applies either:
- When the connection service applied for is not a Basic Connection Service (that is, when there is a defined risk that the works involve more than minimal augmentation – extension or upgrade – to our network)
- When it is a Basic Connection Service but the applicant wants to negotiate the terms and conditions of the contract.
Under this negotiated process, we will make a connection offer within 65 business days of receiving the connection application, (not including periods where we are awaiting additional information from the applicant). The offer must be accepted within 20 business days or it will lapse.
While all applications above the thresholds will require some level of assessment, most assessed applications will result in an offer for the desired inverter capacity. The ones that don't will receive a letter describing the options available to them. These options could include a lower capacity inverter, a non-exporting unit, spreading of capacity over multiple phases, or Reactive Power Control. In some cases, a non-exporting unit may be the only option.
As well, a new option will be included in most cases that allows the applicant to request an offer for the desired inverter capacity, despite the application failing our assessment. We will design the necessary network upgrades or other technical interventions, and specify to the applicant any upgrades required to the customer's electrical installation. The offer may then include a price that covers upgrades to the customer's dedicated network, including the service line, as well as an estimate of timeframes.
If the offer is accepted, the customer will be required to:
- Arrange and fund an upgrade (if relevant) of their electrical installation
- A have a Form A lodged
- Pay the cost to upgrade their dedicated network (if required under the terms of the offer) before we will upgrade the shared network at our cost.
We also reserve the right to proactively upgrade any part of the network where necessary.
NECF imposes timeframes on distributors for the application and negotiation process for applications for inverter capacities up to 30 kVA. Ergon Energy Network must:
- Advise the applicant within 10 business days of receiving a completed application as to whether it qualifies for a Basic Connection Service or not. If we determine it needs to be assessed, it will not qualify for a Basic Connection Service
- If needed, request more information within 20 business days from the applicant for the assessment, eg. consumer mains attributes
- Make a negotiated offer to the applicant within 65 business days of receiving the connection application
- Allow the applicant up to 20 business days to accept a negotiated offer.
Applicants also have obligations to:
- Respond to our requests for more information in a timely way. Note, the 65-business-day clock stops until we receive the information we've requested
- Respond to our presented options in a timely way, ideally within 20 business days. Sales consultants should liaise with their customers promptly and present as much information as practicable to help their customers decide. Then promptly advise us of the customer's desired option. As well, the customer should be kept informed of key milestones in the application process.
Requesting a different inverter or extra solar PV panels
An online application via our Electrical Partners Portal or a PDF Micro EG application form (PDF 662.9 kb) will need to be lodged to request any change or upgrade to an existing unit. This includes inverter replacements, as well as amendments to the capacity of the array, or the total capacity of inverters proposed to be installed at the premises.
We will conduct a preliminary evaluation of the application based on the size of inverter and the nature of the local network serving the premises. A technical assessment may be required to check for any potential adverse impacts to the network, the customer's premises, or their neighbours' premises.
For units with inverters that don't require technical assessment, we aim to process applications within two weeks.
We may require up to eight weeks to technically assess applications for total inverter capacities above our assessment thresholds.
We reserve the right to assess any application and to change these thresholds at any time.
Find out more about our technical assessment criteria.
Manage applications failing assessment
Applications may not pass our assessment if:
- The transformer serving the premises is too small to support the volume of electricity that could be generated by the unit
- The connection is a relatively long distance away from the transformer, which may cause significant voltage fluctuations
- There are already a number of solar PV or other micro EG unit connections that share the same transformer. This may even be the case if there is only one other micro EG unit connected.
If the application doesn't pass our assessment, applicants will be presented with options that could include to:
- Install an inverter of a lower capacity
- Spread the proposed capacity evenly over multiple existing electrical phases
- Upgrade the number of electrical phases of the premises to accommodate the even spreading of capacity
- Request us to provide an offer for the proposed inverter capacity, which could include additional costs for the customer
- Pay for an upgrade to the network to accommodate the proposed inverter capacity.
If no potential adverse impacts are identified, we will approve the micro EG unit connection and send the customer a negotiated connection contract.
Install and connect a micro EG unit
Once we make an offer and the applicant accepts it, installation of the customer's micro EG unit can proceed in accordance with the relevant contract.
Installers are responsible for ensuring that the unit and equipment installed at the customer's premises complies with:
- Australian Standard AS/NZS 3000:2007 - SAA Wiring Rules
- Australian Standard AS/NZS 4777:2005 Grid Connection of Energy Systems
- Any other applicable Australian Standards, current as at the date of installation
- The requirements of the Queensland Electricity Connection and Metering Manual (PDF 23.9 mb).
Note: Voltage ranges in inverters are generally factory-set to AS4777 standards. However, we require a narrower voltage range of 225V to 255V (240V +/-6%). Inverters must be set to this range in order to comply with the terms of the relevant contract.
Installers, please remember that after installation, units must be switched off at the AC isolator until we visit to inspect the unit for compliance and to install or enable the appropriate electricity meter. If systems are found to be turned on prior to the correct meter being installed, installers or customers could face fines.
We also remind installers of two key differences between Ergon Energy's and Energex's installation and connection requirements, as outlined in the Queensland Electricity Connection and Metering Manual (PDF 23.9 mb):
- We require meter panels to be hinged, while Energex does not
- We require meter isolation links to be back-wired, while Energex allows them to be front-wired.
If the customer has been approved to install a 3 phase micro EG unit, then the output power must be distributed evenly across the three phases (unless indicated otherwise). Similarly, if approved for a 2 phase unit, the output power must be distributed evenly across two phases (unless indicated otherwise).
After connection, you'll need to submit a Form A via our Electrical Partners Portal requesting a meter change. The system must remain switched off until the new meter is installed.
If we receive a Form A for a micro EG unit we have not approved, we will contact the customer to arrange completion of a connection application. If relevant, we'll conduct an assessment of the connection application before the connection can be approved and an appropriate meter installed.
If the inverter installed is of a different capacity to what has been approved in the application, we may not be able to switch the unit on but will usually still install the required meter. If a different inverter is required, please lodge a new connection application and wait for a new offer.
Non-compliance with our requirements may generate a Form B to the customer to rectify any issues, and the new meter may not be installed if defects prevent this.
In addition, if we deem the electrical installation to have a serious defect, a Form B will be raised and the premises may be disconnected. A Form B may also be raised for minor defects.
If we identify any adverse impacts to the network, the unit may need to be disconnected until alternative solutions are explored.
Embedded generating (EG) system data by postcode
We provide Monthly EG System Data (XLSX 84.5 kb) as a service to those who wish to understand the number and total capacity of solar PV and other embedded generating systems connected to our network. You can view the data by suburb and postcode. This data is updated after the end of each month and includes all systems from small residential installations to large solar and wind farms.
Please ensure you read the Important Information on the first tab in the file.
Recalled solar products
From time to time the Electrical Safety Office (ESO) initiates product recalls where it is found that a product is unsafe. Electrical contractors and installers are encouraged to review the ESO's website regularly and ensure they aren't using any recalled products, and to follow up on any previous installations where such a product has been installed.
Please refer to the Electrical Safety Office website for the list of recalled solar PV products.