Solar Makes Sense Says AuSES Boss as Fallout over NSW Bonus Scheme Continues

“More than ever solar makes sense.”

These were the words uttered by Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) boss John Grimes to reporters this week, reacting to the storm created by the NSW Auditor General’s report on the state’s disastrous solar bonus scheme. And his words were like an oasis in the desert of recriminations for the true solar believer in NSW folks.

To put the comments in context though, in a week which our former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would describe as a “blame game” over solar here in NSW. Mr Grimes said his organisation stood ready to help the NSW Government with advice following the Auditor General Peter Achterstraat’s scathing report on the Solar Bonus Scheme.

Mr Achterstraat found the scheme, where households participating in the scheme received 60c per kilowatt hour generated by their solar panels, to be mismanaged, even suggesting cowboy status by saying the scheme would have cost taxpayers around $4 billion, an estimated eleven times the original estimate, had it been allowed to run its planned course.

“The Scheme lacked the most elementary operational controls, had no overall plan and risks were poorly managed,” he said.

Former Energy Minister and now Leader of the Opposition John Robertson has been backpedalling this week over this role during the worst of the cost blowout of the scheme. In true “bearpit” (NSW Parliament) tradition, Robbo stood tall … and tried to blame someone else.

”It was on the basis of this advice that Labor proceeded with the 60¢ Solar Bonus Scheme – with support from the Liberals, Nationals and Greens on the floor of the Parliament,” he said.

AuSES’ John Grimes tried valiantly to raise the tone of the debate with the society’s press release suggesting that, instead of the present government slinging mud at the now Opposition members responsible for the mismanagement of the bonus scheme, it should “demonstrate clean energy leadership”.

Fat chance.

The NSW Government spent most of this week gleefully sinking the slipper into the Opposition Leader’s credentials as a financial manager following his role in the solar bonus scheme blowout. Most prominent was the acting Energy Minister, Duncan Gay, who said the report’s findings ”disqualifies [Mr Robertson] from ever being premier of this state with his hands on Treasury”.

Nice.

Any positives in all this? Back to Mr Grimes. While admitting that the NSW scheme was “poorly designed” he said this was not the fault of the NSW solar industry nor the state’s residents. He went on to call for fair government support for solar consumers looking to contribute to Australia’s renewable energy future.

“More than ever, solar makes sense,” Grimes said. “Governments should be providing a fair price for solar to allow Australians to make their own contribution to the clean energy future.”

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