Federal solar scheme hits the poor

Inequity spurs grant rethink

SOLAR panel rebates could be slashed again after the Government confirmed it was still concerned the scheme was driving up electricity prices for the poor.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said he was deeply concemed about the equity of the program that some experts estimated was already costing families that couldn’t afford panels about $100 a year. That’s because the cost of the uncapped solar credits scheme that offers grants of about $6000 is passed on to consumers by electricity retailers, rather than being a cash grant in the Federal Budget. Electricity users pay again when a feed-in tariff scheme “pays” the solar householders who produce more electricity than they use.

Mr Combet has already said the rebates will be slashed from about $6000 to $5000 from July 1, prompting a stampede of customers. "It is a program that we inherited from the Howard government. And it was a thoroughly poorly designed, inequitable program,” he said. “We’ve progressively wound back the levels of assistance. I announced before Christmas a fluther wind»back to take effect from July 1.

“In the meantime, I’ve been watching closely the levels of demand that are still being created by this scheme. The thing that's appropriate for me is watch it very closely, to take steps to reduce the levels of subsidy, which I am doing

Mr Combet said the surging demand for solar roof panels was “not purely a function of a federal govemment level of assistance". “Various state govemments have what’s called a feed-in tariff. The NSW feed-in tariff led to a complete explosion in demand. “They’ve both contributed to very high levels of demand. As well as the high dollar, because it means that the solar panels being imported from China are relatively cheaper. So I am very mindful of that and I am watching it very closely, because I have been particularly concerned about the equity of that program. Because it is effectively a subsidy that is paid through electricity prices.”

For families who can afford it, the generous scheme can reduce the cost of installing solar panels from $10,000 to just $4000

The above article by Samantha Maiden appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on 17 April

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments containing Chinese characters will not be published as I do not understand them