Experts slam Solar Credits decision

20th Nov 2012

A recent federal government decision to wind down its Solar Credits scheme has been slammed by a number of industry commentators.

And while it may not be a surprising reaction, the experts have roundly criticised both the timing and the nature of the announcement.

Greg Combet, climate change and energy efficiency minister, revealed that the initiative would be stopped on January 1 2013 – a full six months ahead of schedule.

He cited a variety of reasons, including high demand for solar power, rising electricity prices and the need to put solar hot water systems (which aren't covered under Solar Credits) back on a level playing field.

But solar power supporters have called it a "very disappointing" development, particularly considering the timing.

One such proponent is Nigel Morris, founder of Solar Business Services, who admitted he had previously agreed with bringing the cancellation date forward – but not this quickly.

"Obviously, [I] had been advocating for far more than six weeks' notice," he stated.

"This move just creates the opportunity for mistakes, forces everyone to rush and creates a mini boom, then an amplified slump; not helpful at all."

Nigel also questioned the energy minister's motives – highlighting statistics that showed the Renewable Energy Target (RET) has been responsible for just a two per cent rise in electricity prices.

Describing it as "clearly a politically motivated manoeuvre", he stated it would make a miserable Christmas for Australia's 4,000 plus installers.

And Morris wasn't the only one to voice his discontent. The Australian Solar Council's John Grimes also weighed in on the argument.

"This is a knee-jerk reaction to a non-existent problem and a pre-emptive strike on Australian families who want to install solar to cut their power bills," he argued.

Not only this, the specialist continued, but the council's research has shown that mortgage belt families facing soaring electricity bills are actually the biggest victims of the move.

Federal government statistics show that over 880,000 rooftop solar PV systems have been installed in Australia since Labour came to power in 2007.
But Grimes implied it was a slap in the face for the industry, which is already contending with the RET review – a process he said is being undermined by this announcement.

Solar funding cuts are already expected as part of the RET review, he explained, so this just provides further uncertainty for both businesses and households reeling from feed-in tariff cuts and other incentive reductions.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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