Push to Make Electricity Retailers Pay as NSW Coalition Continue Solar Spin Cycle

The issue of solar energy, and more importantly the backflip on the Solar Bonus Scheme continues to dominate debate in the NSW Parliament “bearpit”. Heroic efforts by the Coalition to contain fallout are matched only by attempts by certain Liberals to accept credit for the turnaround.

Meanwhile injecting a new angle into the sorry NSW solar debate, NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye has led his party’s endorsement of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) recommendation that NSW electricity retailers pay the full cost of the solar power they receive.

Alerting the public to what must be a nice little earner for the electricity retailers, the Greens Energy Spokesman said the retailers manage to get a yearly windfall of $100 million at the taxpayers’ expense.

“NSW electricity retailers score $100 million worth of free energy each year from rooftop solar panels [with] the Solar Bonus Scheme tariff payments taken from all NSW household bills,” said Dr Kaye in a 15 June media release.

“The free ride for the privatised Energy Australia, Integral and County Energy and AGL is providing windfall profits at the cost of the rest of the rest of the community,” continued Dr Kaye. “They pay nothing or almost nothing for the rooftop solar energy and re-sell it to the neighbouring houses at the full retail price. “

The Greens spokesman for energy said his party would be introducing a bill in the NSW Parliament to implement the recommendation adding that the regulator has “ denied the O’Farrell government any excuse for inaction on the $100 million annual windfall profits retailers make from the solar bonus scheme.”

However much the NSW Coalition tries to bury the Solar Bonus issue, it keeps returning like a heat-seeking boomerang — they can’t seem to manage the media cycle. However with self-serving letters to local papers such as that by recently-elected Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage, this isn’t really surprising.

In a letter published in the 15 June edition of the Blue Mountains Gazette, Ms Sage claimed that Premier Barry O’Farrell had rejected his announced changes to the Solar Bonus Scheme, “following feedback from myself and other government backbenchers…”

As Ms Sage was not visible as opposing the original proposed bill to reduce the tariff in-feed from 60c per kilowatt hour to 40c, one can only assume that democracy has prevailed and the community backlash pressured Ms Sage (and others) into forcing the Energy Minister Chris Hartcher to change his mind.

Indeed Ms Sage admits this when she concludes that “…the community made it clear that this was not acceptable.”

Stay tuned for the next solar installment from Macquarie Street, Sydney (aka the boulevard of broken solar dreams).

 

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