The future of Victoria’s solar industry is looking a lot brighter

Back in business!

Responding to pressure from the Smart Energy Council and action by members, the Victorian government has agreed to boost the number of Solar Homes rebates this financial year by 23,000. Rebates for September have been tripled to 9,750 and doubled for the following three months. In the first half of 2020 the allocation of rebates has also been substantially increased.

The development – news of which was delivered on the eve of the next round of rebates, just in time to prevent further job losses and business closures – follows a hard-fought campaign staged by the Smart Energy Council and members who voiced their anguish on the steps of parliament house and through the media.

The campaign received extensive coverage on TV and radio and in the press.

Amid the escalating crisis the Smart Energy Council urged changes to the Solar Homes Rebate Program during high-level meetings with the Victorian Government.

“We consulted, and they listened,” a beaming John Grimes said following the breakthrough announced earlier this week.

“We have agreed to some key changes in the program that will see substantially more rebates in September and an increase every month on current numbers for the rest of the financial year,” John Grimes said.

Quotas have been lifted that better reflect market demand, the government will release the rebates fortnightly and streamline the approvals process.

The program will release 6500 rebates on September 2 and a further 3250 rebates two weeks later, with a total of 9750 rebates across the month.

“The Victorian Government has listened to solar businesses and solar workers and responded to their concerns by taking decisive action to fix the problem. This is what good governments do.

“This is a big win for the Victorian solar industry.”

Fittingly, he delivered the good news outside the Victorian parliament alongside Solar Homes Minister Lily D’Ambrosio who declared “We’re strengthening this landmark program, which has already helped 35,000 households put a power station on their roof, saving them hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills.

“We’ve listened to Victorians and to the solar industry about how we can make Solar Homes even better. These measures will mean cheaper bills for more Victorians this year, and provide a shot in the arm for the industry.”

Getting the industry back to work, and preventing more company closures in the short term was a key objective of the Smart Energy Council’s campaign.

“We know how much that too many of you were hurting. We know the pain this has caused. And we know this won’t fix all our problems immediately,” said John Grimes, thanking everyone who supported the Smart Energy Council’s Save Solar Jobs Campaign.

“Overall the agreement is a step in the right direction. This is a great outcome. We have more work to do, but the changes to the Solar Homes Program announced this week help put the industry back on track.”

Since April the program has caused widespread damage with hundreds of job losses, many business closures and bankruptcies. The entire supply chain was affected.

Installer businesses have instead dodged a bullet.

More residents will be able to take install rooftop PV and take advantage of solar resources while reducing emissions.

The Victorian Government’s media release stated the Solar Homes Program was on track to see a record year of solar installation on Victorian roofs with the announcement of an additional 23,000 rebates this financial year – a significant boost to the number of rebates available for owner-occupied rooftop solar.

The frequency of rebates has been increased to twice monthly, with two separate rebate allocations each month. The value of the rebates remains the same.  

The program will release 6500 rebates on September 2 and a further 3250 rebates two weeks later, with a total of 9750 rebates across the month.

In October, 6500 rebates will be released in two stages.

Some rebates will be reserved for manual applications.

“The government announced the expanded program as part of a major push for Victoria to reach its target of 50 per cent of its energy to be provided by renewables by 2030,” Minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“Expanding the program will boost installation rates in the lead-up to summer when maximum cost-cutting on energy bills can be delivered.”

A number of enhancements to the Solar Homes Program have also been announced including: 

·       From Thursday 29 August retailers can lodge final online quotes on the Solar Victoria portal at any time. This will apply and will reduce pressure on them and the system when applications open each fortnight.

·       Establishment of an Industry and Customer Reference Group as a commitment to strengthening our engagement with industry and to provide a conduit for their feedback to Solar Victoria   

·       Expansion of industry briefings and webinars 

·       A business mentoring program to be conducted by Small Business Victoria, and 

·       Further increasing the emphasis on safety with more post-installation audits

Apart from the extra 25,000 rebates of up to $2225 available for rooftop solar panels on owner-occupied homes in 2019/20, there are also installation opportunities for rental properties (rebate of up to $2225), solar hot water  ($1000), and batteries ($4838) for targeted areas. 

The media release itemised Labor Government’s $1.3 billion Solar Homes program saying it will install solar panels, hot water or batteries on 770,000 homes over the next ten years, saving Victorian households more than $890 a year on their energy bills. The program will create more than 5,500 jobs, boost energy supply and reduce carbon emissions.

Full details at solar.vic.gov.au

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