What is distributed generation?

Distributed generation is a term used to describe equipment used to generate electricity from small scale energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic, wind, hydro, gas and biomass.

Why generate your own power?

You may have a natural source of energy available to you on your property, such as a running stream of water, high exposure to sunlight or windy conditions, that you may want to use to generate some or all your power needs. Sometimes, you may generate more power than you are able to use.

What happens with the excess power generated?

Instead of storing the surplus power generated, you may wish to sell the excess power to an Electricity Retailer. In order to sell surplus electricity, you will need to connect to Northpower’s Electricity Network. Connection to the network will also allow you to use power when the generation system is not operating or generating less than your immediate requirements. The detailed process can be found in our Technical Requirements for Small Scale Distributed Generation document. However, an overview of the connection process is detailed below.

What is the process for connecting to our Lines Network?

Step 1: Develop a design to determine the type of system, electrical capacity, energy production and electrical system specification.

Step 2: Submit a distributed generation application to Northpower who will check that the Network is capable of handling the proposed generation and for any potential “quality of supply” issues. Northpower will advise if any enhancements (including additional network) to the network and are required. (The application should be made in the same way as a new or upgraded connection application).

Step 3: Northpower provides an approval of the distributed generation application once any technical issues are resolved. Note the approval will contain any relevant technical conditions, e.g. maximum generated power, phasing, etc.

Step 4: Complete commercial arrangements with an electricity retailer to purchase any access power. The retailer then provides a service request to install the import export metering (this must be completed before Step 6).

Step 5: Install the generation system and make ready to connect. Note that the installer or inspector may make a brief temporary connection to run the generation system for testing purposes.

Step 6: Northpower provides a Network approval to connect or liven the distributed generation once the required conditions have been met. Northpower will make arrangements with the customer’s installer to connect the distributed generation.

Step 7: The import export metering is installed and the generation system connected the generation system to Northpower’s network after the following:

System Design

Generation systems up to 5 kVA are not currently subject to export congestion when connected to Northpower’s network. Systems greater than 5 kVA will require a network capacity check as some parts of the network may not have sufficient capacity for the exported power.

The generation capacity of the system is the nameplate capacity of the inverters or the equipment providing the mains voltage.

Inverters used to connect DC generation equipment to Northpower’s network are to comply with AS/NZS 4777 Grid Connection of Energy Systems via Inverters.

A list of compliant inverters may be found in the Australian Clean Energy Council website: http://www.solaraccreditation.com.au/products/inverters.html

If the generation system includes a battery or other energy storage system this will need to be identified in the application.

Inspection, Verification,  Metering and Connection

The generation system requires an electrical inspection, completed by a registered electrical inspector, as it is defined as high risk prescribed electrical work in the Electricity (Safety) Regulations. Northpower will need to be notified of the contact details of the electrical inspector.

The electrical inspection can be completed by Northpower in conjunction with the meter installation if required. Please note that inspection fees will apply and the installing electrician will need to be present for the inspection.

If a non Northpower inspector is utilised Northpower will still require to attend the testing and electrical inspection to complete the verification of compliance. There is no cost for this however at least 5 working days’ notice of the inspection will be required so Northpower can arrange to attend.

The verification of compliance is required to ensure the following is satisfactory:

The electricity revenue metering will require to be changed to allow separate metering of imported and exported power. The metering equipment may be installed by Northpower or alternatively by a non Northpower installer arranged by the retailer. However the non Northpower installer must inform Northpower that they are installing the metering and when this has been completed prior to Network approval (step 6).

The generation equipment can only be permanently connected or livened to Northpower’s network after verification of compliance by Northpower and the installation of import export metering.

The generation equipment should be connected within 18 months of the original approval being provided by Northpower. If the generation is not connected within this period a new application will require to be made.

The owner or generation installer needs to ensure that there is sufficient space available in the meter station for the addition of export metering.

The generator will be on “regulated terms” in accordance with Part 6 of the Electricity Industry Participation Code, unless a connection contract has been entered into (generally small scale distributed generation schemes will be on “regulated terms”).

Fees

There are no charges for the submission and processing of a distributed generation application.

Northpower will charge the owner of the system for all costs associated with the completion of the electrical inspection if this is completed by Northpower.

There is no charge for attending an inspection to complete the verification.

Northpower does not charge for the metering equipment however will charge the electricity retailer or their agent for all costs associated with the installation of the meters if this is completed by Northpower.

Contacts

For any enquiries concerning connection to Northpower’s network please contact:

Robert Meyst on 09 430 1819 or email robert.meyst@northpower.com

For enquiries concerning the booking of an inspection or attendance of an inspection please contact:

Lynn Freeman on 09 430 1805 or email lynn.freeman@northpower.com

For any enquiries concerning metering or wiring regulations please contact:

Mike Gunson on 09 430 1928 or 027 430 0014 or email: mike.gunson@northpower.com