New protest planned this week by solar groups.
The Smart Energy Council is planning a second Melbourne protest calling on the Victorian Government to rethink its Solar Homes Program. Industry members say the scheme is damaging the state’s solar industry and sending solar operators bankrupt.
This week’s rally on Thursday, August 8 will kick off at 11am in front of Premier Daniel Andrews’ parliamentary office in the Melbourne CBD. It follows the July 25 rally on the steps of Parliament House.
The SEC has joined industry group Solar Cutters to lobby the government in the wake of the program’s quota cap and eligibility criteria problems.
Solar Homes program turning applicants away
The Solar Homes program kicked off in August 2018. However, phase one closed when it was quickly over-subscribed.
The same thing happened when phase two started on July 1 this year. July’s monthly allocation ran out in three days, while August’s quota of 3,767 rebates was filled in a lightning fast 90 minutes.
As a result, solar installers are waiting with no new rebates available until September 1
That’s because potential customers are waiting until September in the hope of getting one of the $2,225 rooftop solar installation rebates.
The Solar Homes program needs immediate reform, industry bodies say. Otherwise many solar companies could go to the wall.
Industry bodies suggest amendments to scheme
The SEC is still waiting for the Andrew Government to respond to its suggestions to amend and improve the Solar Homes Program. These include:
- Reducing the annual income eligibility threshold.
- Increasing number of rebates available by reducing each rebate’s value.
- Bringing forward future rebates to remove the deadlock of pent-up demand.
- Streamlining the application process.
- Correcting facial recognition technology used on website.
An SEC survey of 60 Victorian solar energy businesses was also taken on July 31.
Subsequently, 88 per cent said the Solar Homes rebate scheme had a negative effect on their business. As a result, 78 per cent of those polled are now facing closure.
Solar business going through the floor, not the roof
According to SEC CEO John Grimes, some Victorian solar businesses have recorded a 95 per cent drop in activity.
Under the scheme, eligible households can claim $2,225 off the price of rooftop solar panels, or 50 per cent of the system price (whichever is lowest).
The Victorian Government says the 2019/20 phase of the program will deliver 42,000 rooftop solar installations. It will also deliver solar battery rebates to 1,000 households that already have solar panels.