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Solar bodies appeal to government

18th Aug 2011

Australia's leading solar industry bodies have released new figures which detail the number of solar businesses that are struggling in New South Wales.

The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have reached out to the government in the hope that a solar policy will be introduced sooner than scheduled.

SEIA surveyed 91 NSW solar businesses and gathered some surprising data.

Since November 2010, the companies have seen a 93 per cent fall in daily sales inquiries and the loss of 416 jobs.

The immediate forecast predicts a further 108 workers will be laid off in the next month and 25 per cent of businesses at risk of closing.

In a joint statement released yesterday (August 17), AuSES chief executive John Grimes and SEIA NSW president Geoff Bragg said that the lack of policy is having large negative impacts on the industry, the consumers and the environment.

"This is having a devastating impact on our industry … while we accept there needed to be a slowing of demand, the policy vacuum has meant the solar industry has now ground to halt in NSW," they assert.

An 88 per cent decline in solar panel installations has been reported, amounting to a total cut in retail sales of $800 million.

The NSW government has planned to wait until the findings of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal report into a fair and reasonable price for solar in April 2012.

But both AuSES and SEIA believe that by the time the report is released and acted upon, the industry will be in worse shape.

"We are concerned there is no sense of urgency from the government despite all of the warnings from the solar industry and the ongoing job losses.

"Three months ago, the solar industry outlined a proposal for a fair price for solar, which would not cost taxpayers a cent and would not increase electricity prices," they add.

The organisations believe that the future for solar is one which benefits both the general population and the environment.

By allowing residents to receive a financial incentive for contributing electricity to the grid, as well as the continuation of the solar credits scheme and rebates, solar will see a healthy future.

Other states have seen more promising solar activity with Victoria's feed-in tariff still open, meaning households can experience the financial benefits of being paid 60 cents per kilowatt hour for the excess electricity they produce.

By Bob Dawson - News Editor

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