Angus Taylor And The Future Of Australia’s Solar Subsidy

Angus Taylor and the solar subsidy

Angus Taylor | Image via Facebook

Will the “Minister for getting electricity prices down”, Angus Taylor, seek to wind up Australia’s major solar subsidy far earlier than scheduled?

The Smart Energy Council has teamed up with Solar Citizens on a petition campaign on saving the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), the signatures on which will be presented to the new Federal Energy Minister next week.

“The coalition’s new Prime Minister and Energy Minister have indicated they will follow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recommendations to axe the SRES scheme – a scheme that is the gateway to solar power for thousands of families – nine years early,” says the Smart Energy Council.

But has there been any real indication they will proceed on the ACCC’s recommendation on the SRES and accompanying subsidy? Not that I’ve been able to find – however, there’s also no indication they won’t and that’s a little unsettling; particularly given there is plenty of pressure from some parties within the Coalition to do so.

As mentioned early last week, the new Energy Minister appears to have a soft spot for some forms of renewables, including solar power.

In a speech to the National Small Business Summit, Council of Small Business Organisations Australia last Thursday, Angus Taylor reaffirmed this, stating:

“Renewables are in my blood, and have been from the day I was born. As well as hydro, solar is playing an increasingly important role in our networks. Like many others in regional Australia, we use solar technology on the farm where we live.”

and

“It’s ironic that in a country with an abundance of natural resources – coal, gas, water and solar – we should be in this position.”

and

“I see a strong role for commercially viable renewables, alongside continued focus on coal and gas.”

Yes, the mention of a focus on coal and gas is bad news. Also missing from the Minister’s statements of support was any mention of wind, another resource Australia has in abundance. Australia’s wind industry has a lot to be nervous about from Angus Taylor’s appointment. But it’s clear Minister Taylor has at the very least an inkling of the value of solar power.

As for his comment about renewables being in his blood, Angus Taylor’s grandfather William Hudson was the first Commissioner and chief engineer of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Whether the somewhat positive attitude towards solar energy translates to a desire to maintain the status quo regarding the SRES and let it run its course is another matter altogether. That’s why the Smart Energy Council/Solar Citizens petition is still well worth signing as it will be yet another reminder to the Energy Minister of how popular solar power is in this country – and that’s a valuable reminder with a Federal Election not too far off.

In addition to the accelerated windup of the SRES, there are other options open to the Minister, such as “fiddling with the small-scale knob” as Ronald detailed earlier this year – but again, that risks the same sort of voter backlash and other implications.

Keep Calm And Carry On – But Watch

The absence of any commitment to action either way on the SRES and consequently the “solar rebate” at this point means there’s no need to blindly rush into installing solar panels – and rushing could be a bad move regardless as panic buying is where many purchase mistakes are made.

However, it’s also worthwhile bearing in mind that each day a decision to buy solar is put off, that’s another day of tolerating big electricity bills. And if the axe does fall on the SRES, getting caught up in that rush could be problematic.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Chris Thaler says

    Unfortunately, politicians tend to be afflicted with the rare disease called ‘pollies mouth’ which induces sporadic & often incomprehensible utterings. Wait for the actual implementation of his activities and it will be too late to react.
    Useful renewable installations will far outweigh anything the political clique can pursue.

  2. Stephen Jenkins says

    Recently installed a solar pool pump, no mains backup, Very impressed with the performance, running at 8.00 am on a very overcast day, pool has rarely been this clear.

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