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Calls for extension of Victoria's solar scheme

17th Aug 2011

Concerns have arisen in Victoria as stakeholders and residents await an announcement from the Department of Primary Industry.

Reports have surfaced that the state's feed-in tariff is about to reach its pre-determined capacity of 100 megawatts.

The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) has asked the Victorian government to honour its election commitments by allowing the scheme to continue in its current state.

ATA chief executive Ian Porter says: "The Coalition promised strong support for the Victorian feed-in tariff in its 2010 election campaign, as well as an independent review of the scheme. There is no need to make significant changes to the policy until a proper, independent review has been carried out.

"At an equivalent cost of less than two cups of coffee per household per year, the scheme is extremely cheap and is not hurting Victorian electricity consumers."

A review is set to be conducted once the cap is reached, meaning that entry into the scheme will remain on hold until further notice.

The resulting interim period may slow progress for the state's solar sector, as consumers wait for more concrete details to emerge before choosing to install a solar panel system.

For those who enter the scheme before it closes, they can expect to be credited with 60 cents per kilowatt hour for the excess energy they generate.

Solar feed-in tariffs have proven popular for households and small to medium-sized businesses as a means of reducing their energy bills.

By installing solar panel systems on their rooftops, houses and building owners can minimise their dependence on electricity suppliers, as well as receive financial benefits for providing electricity to the greater region.

Earlier in August the Clean Energy Council called for the Western Australia solar feed-in tariff to be extended after it closed following a surge in popularity amongst everyday Australians.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren labelled the WA closure as disappointing.

In a press release on August 1 he highlighted the growing popularity for feed-in tariffs, saying: "The temporary rush by consumers to get access to the best incentives unfortunately appears to have been used as an excuse to shut down an industry which was on track to stabilise under the lower incentives, as was the experience in other states."

The ACT also closed its scheme earlier than expected in June, when it received a rush of applications after expanding the eligibility of the scheme to owners of micro-systems.

By Mike Peacock - Solar Correspondent 

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