Gone In 90 Minutes: Victoria’s Solar Rebate

Victorian solar rebate

July’s allocation of Victoria’s solar power rebate went fast, but it had nothing on the speed August’s quota flew out the door – again leaving many disappointed and the state’s home solar sector deeper in crisis.

July’s allocation was fully subscribed within 3 days. August’s allocation of rebates for solar power systems was released at 9am AEST yesterday and by 10am, the Solar Victoria counter indicated:

Rebate counter - 10am

By 10.45am, the counter read:

Rebate counter 10.45am

Gone in well under 2 hours and some have put the timeframe at just 90 minutes. The small boost in rebate numbers for August didn’t even touch the sides of demand. Now fully subscribed, the next release won’t be available until September.

More Victorian Solar Businesses To Go Bust

The Andrews Labor Government might consider this scheme a rip-roaring success, but more Victorian solar workers will be losing their jobs this month and more solar businesses will be shutting their doors for good as a result of the Solar Homes PV rebate debacle. And this is a fact the State Government is aware of.

The level of rebate allocations is in effect putting a cap on sales activity. Prior to this mess, Victoria’s residential solar industry had matured and was doing well. Then the introduction of the first phase of the rebate last August saw existing businesses grow and new players enter the market to cater to demand. The demand remains, but Victorians are putting off installing solar until they can secure the state rebate – and some frustrated applicants may give up on going solar altogether.

Among the recommended solutions to the rebate mess is a lowering of the maximum household income threshold and/or halving the rebate, which will allow for doubling monthly allocations. These recommendations have apparently fallen on deaf ears.

The Smart Energy Council says the Solar Homes Program has been a catastrophe for the Victorian home solar power sector.

“This is devastating news for the Victorian solar industry, and follows the sudden closure of the program in April and a disastrous July, when the scheme was full within 60 hours,” said Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes. “A survey undertaken by the Smart Energy Council yesterday of 60 Victorian solar businesses found a staggering 80% of solar businesses polled have either closed or are concerned they will close as a result of the Solar Homes Program.”

The SEC states its survey also found 77% of businesses said staff had been made redundant or were expected to be made redundant.

SolarQuotes founder Finn Peacock’s take on the situation:

“I think the industry has to take legal action.”

A Cull With Major Collateral Damage?

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio have been repeatedly warned the approach to the rebooted rebate will kill off a big chunk of the state’s residential solar sector. Hundreds of industry participants and supporters gathered on the steps of State Parliament last week to protest the way the scheme is being run.

The situation won’t just have the nasty knock-on effects of unemployment for many workers and their families, but customers of businesses that have closed their doors will face challenges with technical and warranty support. Furthermore, competition and choice in the Victorian market will decrease as businesses exit.

With evidence mounting of the negative impact of this fiasco and the Victorian Government continuing to dig its heels in, the question now needs to be asked – is a cull of solar businesses the Andrews Labor Government’s intention? If so, it’s a very nasty way to go about it and the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater as good installation firms are among the victims.

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. Don Arnup says

    Hi Michael ,you will have to excuse a suspicious person like me thinking that there has been pressure applied on Vic govt by both DNSP’s and coal fired generators to either kill off the domestic solar industry ,or severely slow it because of the detrimental impacts on their businesses / revenues .

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