CUSTOMERS scrambled to lodge applications for new solar systems by midnight on Friday, to take advantage of a premium electricity buy-back rate before it drops by 70 per cent.
Customers who had their applications approved in time have locked in the premium tariff of 28 cents per kilowatt hour they sell back to the grid until January 1, 2019.
About 10,000 Tasmanian homes and businesses were already solar customers prior to the announcement of the cut-off date, which generated a further 3000 applications.
The interim tariff for new customers has dropped to eight cents, until the Economic Regulator makes a new ruling to take effect from January 1, 2014.
This date also marks the start of full retail competition.
However, new retailers operating in the Tasmanian marketplace may offer higher tariffs to secure customers.
The minimum price will be reviewed by the Regulator each year to ensure it's fair.
Save our Solar spokesman John Thirgood - who also sells solar systems at Jessups Retravision in Launceston - says eight cents is not an accurate reflection of the value of the power, because people who generate their own electricity shouldn't have to subsidise the cost of the infrastructure they don't use.
``Forever after, the Economic Regulator is constrained by the guidelines that will be set in Parliament by (Energy Minister) Bryan Green,'' he said.
Mr Thirgood said the price had been forced down by Aurora wanting to please new retailers entering the market.
Customers who borrow money to pay for the installation of solar systems were also facing a doubling of the break-even time for the systems to pay for themselves under a tariff of eight cents, which was a disincentive to installing solar power, he said.
Tasmania is not the only state phasing out premium rates for feed-in tariffs.
Western Australia has a legacy rate of 40 cents, which the government tried to change in early August, but reversed its decision due to overwhelming opposition.
Victoria's premium rate is 60 cents, which closed at the end of 2011 and its new minimum rate is also eight cents.
New South Wales also has a premium rate of 60 cents, which ended in October 2010 and dropped to 20 cents.
South Australians who connect before September 30 this year will receive 16 cents for the next three years.
And Queenslanders are now paid 8 cents, down from 44 cents which closed in July last year.