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Solar Buddies - Trust Power's New Solar Buy Back Scheme

By Kristy Hoare on in Solar Power New Zealand

Solar Buddies - Trust Power's New Solar Buy Back Scheme

New Zealanders have been getting short-changed when it comes to buy back rates for solar power. For the uninformed, a buy back rate is the price paid by electricity retailers for excess solar power being exported to the grid (i.e. a solar power home generates energy but doesn't use it or store it).  Most energy retailers pay per unit; 7 to 8 cents. This is for feeding electricity into the grid, a pretty lousy rate to be honest and salt in the wound when you're paying 30 cents for electricity off them!  But, Trust Power has a nifty new arrangement, enabling customers, or solar power sellers, to sell excess solar power at any price they choose fit.

Trust Power calls this program 'Solar Buddies', and as the title suggests, you need a buddie to take advantage of the scheme. 

How it works

Once solar power has been installed on the customers roof, (and the said customer has signed up with Trust Power accordingly), the seller can ask anyone if they'd like to buy solar power, at a rate both seller and "buddie" agree on.  The seller pays solar energy out at the rate of 16 cents for example, and the sellers buddie will be buying solar generated power cheaper than what they would pay for power from traditional energy retailers.

Solar Buddies is available nationwide; solar sellers could be in Whangarei selling power to a buddie in Invercargill.  They could sell power to a neighbor, a workmate, or a local dairy owner. Sellers can even give away solar power for free; a parent, a local charity, it's your choice, and it's a unique selling point that is quite appealing.

What's the catch? 

  • Both the solar power seller, and the buddie, need to be signed up with Trust Power. 
  • The solar power seller can only sell a maximum of 50kWh of power to each buddie, per month.  But sellers can have more than one buddie, they could have 30 buddies if they so wished.  They could also sell back half their generated solar if they wanted to. A pretty nifty idea indeed.  
  • As a purchaser you can only buy from one buddie.  This limits you to only one solar seller (buddie), so make sure you are happy with the terms of your individual agreement.

To get started on the Solar Buddies programme you'll need to download the sign-up form from the Trust Power website, and you'll be guided as to what to do next.  Trust Power don't charge a fee to be a member in the scheme, and there are no tariffs for customers with solar power.

Find out what solar power costs in your area, get 3 free quotes here.

Showing 11 comments

Posted by Ben on 20th Jul 2021 11:32:34

Would anyone want to be a trust power buddy and be supplied with 50kWs of power

Posted by Kerry Hand on 30th Mar 2020 10:12:12

The 50 KW limit seems to defeat most of the advantage. I have two houses, so I was thinking of just using the power generated at one house to power the other. No charge.
At say 26c per unit thats $13.00
Or - at 26c less 8c thats $9.00.
Neither is very inviting.

Posted by Scott on 24th Jan 2019 14:21:34

We are with solar buddies and sell to 5 buddies. We offer a 10c less than what ever the current 24hr rate is on their account. Some buddies are 19.86c and others are 25c depending on if they are a low user or not these are +gst Tauranga has a 35c low power rate and 29.86c standard my brother who lives 1km from me has a 45c rate? ( we sell him 50khw for 25c) we are on a 35c 24hr low user rate. This gives us about a $65 inc gst CREDIT every month on our power bill plus any extra exported at .07c from trustpower. We have a 5kw inverter with 5.7kw of panel's and charge our EV leaf 95% off our solar. We could easily have 2 more buddies in summer up to 12 but in winter only 5-6 would get the full 50kwh each so keep it at 5 buddies for now. November's power bill was a $4 credit Dec bill $6 ( was not a good Dec with weather) credit on account think winter we paid a average of $40 for power. Well worth it.

Posted by Kristy on 3rd May 2018 14:58:25

To find a solar buddy, please use this Ecobob Forum thread to post your interest: https://www.ecobob.co.nz/forum/switching-to-solar-power/trustpower-solar-buddies---find-a-buddy-15777/

Posted by Peace and Quiet Pyes Pa on 27th Apr 2018 02:08:52

Has anyone figured out a way to do what Roger the Dodger has in mind or anything that
would bring more to excess Solar producers?

Posted by Chris on 28th Mar 2018 14:54:47

Hi Rob,
your solar output varies during the seasons. So in summer you will have more surplus then in winter so you might get to your 50kw limit very quickly in summer but your PV system may not produce enough in winter to also export 50kW. Unless you oversize your PV system which will cost a lot upfront. So you may as well give the money directly to your relatives instead.

Posted by Roger the sun dodger on 25th Mar 2018 11:00:33

We have a 10kW array in sunny Nelson and this scheme, on the surface, seems to be win-win. I will need to look at my existing retailer's rates (Meridian) and compare them to Trustpower's, taking in to account whether prompt payment discount and base rates are comparable. I would like to move from Meridian because we installed those 10kW partially as a result of a personal conversation with the Meridian CEO in 2011 at an energy forum seminar where he said that they would not touch their one-for-one feed-in tariff rate. One year after installation, Meridian dropped their feed-in tariffs considerably so I feel personally cheated by them.
I am wondering whether I can 'advertise' for potential buyers somehow?

Posted by Fred Wilson on 17th Feb 2018 09:27:43

Wu Tang I don't think your calcs are correct. The maths you show works out at $9 not $7.50. Also many power users are on tariffs higher than 26c so the savings are greater. And more buddies means the savings are multiplied.

Posted by Wu-Tang Clan on 13th Feb 2018 11:24:33

The savings are capped by the 50 kWh / month limit. (P2power also has a 50kWh cap on their 16 c/kWh special rate, but in that case it's per fortnight.

The maximum saving is only 50 kWh/month * (26 c/kWh - 8 c/kWh) = $7.5 /month

if my calculations are correct then it's basically $7.5 per month that you're sharing with your buddy.

Posted by Kristy on 10th Jan 2018 11:28:03

Hi Rob,

Your net benefit calculations are correct. I have also heard of family members selling their solar power to each other at 18 cents, I think your Mum and sisters will appreciate your generosity in selling them power at 10 cents!

Posted by Rob on 9th Jan 2018 11:44:53

This sounds like a great idea.

My calcs are as follows. If I put panels on my roof I can 'sell' to my mum and 2 sisters at maybe 10c/unit. They get power for less than their current rate (about 28c/unit) and I get more than if I sold to the power company.

Nett benefit is 18c/unit for them and 3c/unit for me - so 21c/unit. If I sell 150 units per month that is $31.5/month. Not a lot but every bit helps. My benefit is my own power plus just 150*.03=$4.5 month. However my mum and sisters each save about $9/month or $108/year (total benefit to family of about $380 per year).

Do these numbers seem right to you?

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