QLD government under fire for negative solar stance24th Jun 2013
It has been a busy month for the Queensland government's energy minister.
The honourable (we'll come back to this later) Mark McArdle announced major reforms to the state's electricity sector aimed at improving transparency, cutting costs and passing the savings onto consumers.
Excellent news, some would say. But it's comments made by the minister at the end of last month that have drawn the ire of green energy advocates - and solar power supporters in particular.
In a surprising attack, the politician argued that renewable energy was largely responsible for a nearly 19 per cent rise in electricity prices across Queensland.
Among the alleged culprits were the much-maligned carbon tax, and the Solar Bonus Scheme - the state's feed-in tariff (FIT) system that had provided 44 cents per kilowatt-hour of additional generated solar power back to the grid.
The rebate was hurriedly slashed to eight cents as thousands of Queenslanders flocked to get solar PV installed - yet despite the cut, it seems to remain a sticking point with the government.
"The overly generous solar bonus scheme gave significant cash windfalls to those customers who installed solar PV on domestic roofs, but the scheme did not pass on the real costs to the electricity network, to support solar PV," McArdle opined.
Electricity distributors (largely state-owned, of course) are seeing energy demand drop - with the government losing money hand over fist as happy customers benefit from their investment in 44c per kWh solar PV.
Put simply, the scheme was too successful. Yes, too successful.
What the experts say
Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services pointed out that coal and electricity make up a whopping 16 per cent of Queensland's revenue each year - and this is falling.
"Anything that reduces the amount of coal mined, shipped and burned or, any reduction in electricity consumption that reduces sales or profit hurts the state budget. And solar does both," he stated earlier this month.
"This is a completely unwarranted, distorted attack on a small sector of the community who have invested in good faith and with great intentions."
And he wasn't finished. Nigel highlights the "utter hypocrisy" in backpedalling on a government scheme that had been touted as a fantastic offer when first unveiled.
"Queensland's minister for energy and water supply the 'honourable' Mark McArdle wasn't very honourable this week," he argued.
Posted by Bob Dawson