More Calls For Victorian Solar Rebate Fix

Victoria solar power rebate crisis

Pressure is mounting on the Victorian Government to take action on the Solar Homes PV rebate shemozzle; but Premier Daniel Andrews and Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio are yet to publicly comment on the unfolding disaster.

After a sudden freeze on the Victorian solar panel rebate in April, the doors were opened again on July 1 – then abruptly slammed shut late on July 3 as the rebate quota for the month (3,333) was quickly snapped up by pent-up demand.

The situation is expected to repeat when August’s quota is released, and for an undetermined number of months to follow unless changes are made. While the national “solar rebate” that can knock thousands off the cost of installing solar panels is also available, Victorians are (understandably) holding out for the extra state-issued subsidy of $2,225.

Following this month’s debacle, SolarQuotes founder Finn Peacock published an article titled “Has Daniel Andrews Killed The Residential Solar Industry In Victoria” that details the crisis faced by the local sector and what needs to be done.

“I don’t believe for a second that Daniel Andrews or Solar Victoria ever wanted to kill the solar industry in the state,” stated Finn. “But that’s what they are doing. And it will be a quick death at this rate.”

The piece has been our most read article this month.

The article mentions an industry group called Solar Cutters, who are calling for a reduction in the maximum eligible annual household income threshold from $180,000 to $90,000. Solar Cutters have also launched a petition, which had gained more than 1,100 signatures at the time of writing.

The situation in Victoria was also covered in SQ’s vodcast last week.

CEC, Smart Energy Council Agree Changes Needed

The Smart Energy Council agrees with the maximum income threshold reduction. In a statement on July 8, it said:

“The Smart Energy Council supports calls for the Victorian Solar Homes program to be more targeted so that those who will benefit most can get access to the program.”

On Thursday last week, the Clean Energy Council started making its views on the situation more publicly known. In a media wrap-up on Friday, the CEC said the Solar Homes program needs serious attention.

“The CEC has called for an urgent review of the current arrangements, and for any of you that are doing it tough to communicate your concerns directly to the Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and the Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to make sure they get the memo.”

Solar Workers Being Laid Off

One small solar retailer, Bailey Technologies, has taken their message directly to Minister D’Ambrosio’s Facebook page in a comment addressed to Premier Andrews and the Minister. It explains the effect the situation has had on their company and the Victorian residential solar power installation industry.

“You have promised that this scheme will create 5,500 new jobs. I am interested in how that is going to happen,” said Susan Bailey. “Today my husband had to fire a good employee, simply because we do not have the work for him. This is not an isolated incident.”

At the time of publishing, neither Premier Andrews or Minister D’Ambrosio had indicated what/if any action will be taken to save a significant chunk of the Victorian industry from ruin.

“This rests on your shoulders. You can make the changes needed to fix it. Man up and show us what sort of politician you are, and do it before people are driven to desperate acts,” said Susan Bailey.

A scheme that held so much promise appears – in its current form – to have become the poster-child for how not to run a solar rebate/subsidy scheme.

UPDATE 4.00PM: Minister D’Ambrosio said in comments emailed to RenewEconomy today there are no plans to change the eligibility criteria for the program.

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.


  1. John Fernando says

    There are plenty of obvious solutions, but all require a politician to say the words “I made a mistake.”

    * Offer a much smaller subsidy to a much larger number of people based on a realistic survey of the actual demand
    * Reduce the income threshold (yes, I just signed the petition)

    Otherwise, completely change the nature of the subsidy. They could INCREASE the subsidy but completely focus on ultra-low-income households, including pensioners, single parents, renters, etc. This would also help to immunise these people from the Liberal party’s propaganda claiming that their coal lobbyist agenda is oh-so-kind-heartedly battling to reduce electricity prices for the poor (as opposed to supporting fossil fuel investments for the billionaire class).

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