Despite What The Coalition Says Or Doesn’t Say, The “Solar Rebate” Won’t End Soon

Will they scrap the Renewable Energy Target (and by extension the ‘Solar Rebate’) or won’t they?

The Australian newspaper has reported that a couple of Coalition MPs have said Australia should scrap its Renewable Energy Target (RET) if Donald Trump dumps the United States’ commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

Well that makes sense.  After all, Australia always follows in the United States’ footsteps.  For example:

  • After President Kennedy said America would send astronauts to the moon, Australians landed a few weeks after Apollo 11
  • When America started building nuclear power plants, Australia built a huge reactor complex at Jervis Bay.
  • Whenever the United States decides to get involved in a land war in Asia…  Actually I can’t make fun of this one because in that area we always do seem to go along with them.

But seriously, do these Coalition MPs think that because Donald Trump might do something stupid, Australia should also do something stupid?  How does that make any sense?  We’re not under obligation to match America in the stupidity department.  I know there are times when we have tried, but we’re not required to.

It is obvious the recent murmurings about ending the RET actually have nothing to do with Donald Trump.  He is just a sulphur-crested excuse.  The Coalition has long wanted to end the Renewable Energy Target.  While Trump certainly isn’t helping, we have seen there are Australian politicians who will use any excuse to oppose renewable energy.

But the Coalition hasn’t managed to scrap the RET, only reduce it by one-quarter a few years ago when:

  • they held more seats,
  • had more support,
  • renewable energy was more expensive,
  • and we hadn’t just signed an international agreement to lower carbon emissions.

So they are not likely to be able to end it now.

This means you shouldn’t believe the ads that appear whenever a politician brings up ending the RET saying –

“SOLAR REBATE ENDING!  GET SOLAR INSTALLED NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!”

Just roll your eyes and ignore them, or if you are looking to install solar, take your time to decide on a system that is right for you, and then get the installation done by someone who doesn’t lie to or mislead their customers with bullshit advertising.

Because even if the Coalition decides to burn their strength on ending the RET it will take them a long time to do it, so the STCs that lower the cost of rooftop solar are not going to disappear anytime soon.

A Movement So Powerful No One Wants To Add Their Name To It

While I wrote The Australian reported on MPs saying the RET should be scrapped, their reporting didn’t extend as far as actually mentioning their names.  That seems like a bit of an oversight to me.  I thought the whole reason journalists had little notebooks was to write down people’s names.  I would include a link to the article, but Rupert wants you to pay to see it, and while I’m okay with paying for actual news, I can get all the gossip I want for free.

Apparently two Coalition MPs say the idea of killing the RET is “widespread” and “getting a lot of traction very quickly”.  Because Trump, I guess?  You know, if I was the party Whip, I wouldn’t be fond of backbenchers associating my party with Trump in any way. 1

But we have two Coalition pollies who aren’t afraid to stand tall and put their names to an idea they believe in, no matter how bad it is.  They are backbencher Tony Abbott (remember him?) and South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi.  And despite the Coalition’s general opposition to any energy source that isn’t black and doesn’t release carcinogens and mercury into the air when burned or at least isn’t a gas gas gas, they are the only ones I can think of who are openly calling to wreck the RET at the moment.

But you may have noticed Tony Abbott’s opinion doesn’t carry the weight it used to.  In fact, I can’t think of an Aussie PM whose opinions have lost weight faster.

Barnaby Joyce Says Australia Won’t Dump With Trump

Fortunately for us, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, isn’t afraid to step up to bat, appear on ABC radio, and give non-committal answers.

According to Joyce, Australia won’t be pulling out of the Paris agreement.  Well that’s good.  I wonder if he expects a pat on the head for promising not to pull out of an agreement he ratified less than three months ago.

As for preserving the RET, we get no firm commitment there.  Well, he appeared to say we would be keeping the RET, but I don’t think he actually understood the question.  He then went on to bag state targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Frydenberg Avoids Question Of If The RET Will Stay

Frydenberg, the Minister for Environment and Energy, appeared on radio and refused to commit to keeping the RET.  He was directly asked, but avoided the question.  He then went on to say Australia should build more coal power stations.

No Promise To End RET But No Coalition Love For Renewables

Clearly the Coalition is no fan of renewable energy and even dreams of building new coal power plants in Australia.  A dream that is economically impossible given the current cost of solar, will be refused finance by banks, and will prevent us from fulfilling our international agreement to cut emissions – unless of course we go through the expense of building new coal power stations and then knock them down again a few years later.  While the Coalition doesn’t seem to understand this, we will need to continue to cut emissions beyond the year 2030.

The RET Is Likely To Stay

Despite the Federal Government’s hostility to energy sources that aren’t controlled by mining companies, I think the RET is likely to survive.  The main reason is simply that the Coalition isn’t as strong as it was back when the Abbott government eliminated Australia’s carbon price and cut the RET.  They may want to get rid of the RET, but I don’t think they have the clout to do so in the face of both domestic political opposition and opposition that will come from business.

A lot of large companies, such as AGL and Origin, have invested in renewable energy and stand to lose money if the RET is suddenly ended.  The Coalition is unlikely to respond to this by saying, “Oh boo-hoo-hoo!  The big company lost some money!  Suck it up, loser!”  They save that for unemployed people.

Because these companies would want the value of their current investments and renewable projects they have in the pipeline protected, working out all the details of compensation would take a long time.  It’s not something that can be done overnight.  It took the Abbott Government almost two years to just cut the RET by 24%.  We’ll have plenty of warning if our current government2 tries to eliminate it.

Don’t Panic.

If you are looking to install rooftop solar then now is an excellent time.

But there is absolutely no need to rush into things because the RET and the “solar rebate3 that lowers the cost of rooftop solar is not about end.

Even if the government dedicates itself to its destruction, you’ll still have plenty of time to do your research, get yourself some quotes from reliable installers and decide on what kind of system is right for you.  There is no need to be pressured into making a decision by shonks who advertise that the RET is about to suddenly end because that is simply not true.

Footnotes

  1. But if I was the Coalition Whip I wouldn’t want my party associated with the Coalition, so I probably wouldn’t be offered the position.
  2. Who is our current Prime Minister at the moment?  It’s almost as if we don’t have one.
  3. The solar rebate is not actually a rebate, but that’s what it gets called and, since I appear to have misplaced my ability to change how words are used, we appear to be stuck with that terminology.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. Jack Wallace says

    STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES, to misquote Forest Trump……

    Politicians do stupid things because they’re politicians: the only trade that requires no skill, talent, brains or other qualifications.
    The only thing on earth more stupid than politicians is the Great Unwashed which elects them (and actually thinks that it’s a privilege to do so!!!), and pays mafia-style stand-over imposts (aka:- ‘Taxes’) to feed the bloody things.
    If people (and others) stopped doing that they wouldn’t NEED any ‘help’ from the ‘authorities.

  2. Jack Wallace says

    And on the topic of clear thinking, is Ron’s horse’s name actually ‘Tonto 23’?
    …or is it just that it ages at the same rate as my mother did? (Before she died, of course, still aged 39………. for 42 years straight.)

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Yes, Tonto’s name is Tonto 23. Tonto is Spanish for fool and he is 23 as in the 23rd horse called Tonto I’ve owned. There is not truth at all to the rumor that I exaggerate the number of horses I have owned in order to scare them into obedience by telling them, “Okay, listen up. You’re Tonto 23 and trust me, you don’t want to end up like the previous 22 Tontos…”

  3. Jack Wallace says

    Well there y’go! As my favourite philosopher was heard to say ‘You live and you learn; or you don’t live very long.’
    But it’s little wonder the Spanish Empire has sunk into oblivion, equating ‘Tonto’ with ‘fool’.
    Why, I remember ~ and yes, I am older than your horse(s) ~ the time the Lone Ranger and his side-kick Tonto rode into a dead-end canyon and didn’t realise their error until it was too late. They turned to go back and saw the 200 Injuns blocking their escape. They turned their eyes to heaven in desperation and saw another 200 Injuns at the top of the canyon….and some more of them on the other side too.
    The Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and said: ‘Well Tonto, old mate, what are we going to do now?’
    And Tonto looked him up and down and asked: ‘What d’you mean ‘We’, white man?”

  4. Ron / Finn

    We were recently quoted a 7KW system with grid feed limiting technology. E.g. Maximum 5KW grid feed in but 7KW usable for home and home based business. With no communication from the solar company (which is a whole other issue), they installed a 5KW system.

    The reason they gave was that as of 31 December 2016, residential systems are limited to 5KW even with grid feed in.

    Given the lack of communication, I am sceptical they are telling the truth. Is this true?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Dennis, Ronald here. If you were quoted for a 7kw system, then that’s what they have to install. They can’t change it without your permission. And electricity distributors don’t normally change rules out of the blue. If there was a rule change your installer should have known about it.

      You can contact your distributor and see if there was any rule change. This will make no difference to the fact they didn’t install what you were quoted for, but it will let you be confident about whether or not you are dealing with a company that has no trouble lying to your face.

      • After making a few phone calls it appears they applied to Energex for 7KW but got knocked back. It is unclear if they added export limitation to the application. Still doesn’t change the fact that this wasn’t communicated to me prior to installation. Fortunately, I have not paid a cent towards the system yet. The sales rep is coming on Monday to try and placate us. Will be interesting.

        As far as you are aware on the Energex grid there is nothing stopping a larger system with export limitation technology?

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Glad to hear you are in a good position.

          As far as I am aware, in Queensland there is nothing to stop people from installing inverters larger than 5 kilowatts provided they are export limited. This is an extra expense, but some (more expensive) inverters are starting to include the ability to export limit. Without export limiting, the largest system that can be installed without special permission is a 5 kilowatt inverter with up to 6.66 kilowatts of panels.

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