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Solar industry responds to Victoria feed-in tariff changes

5th Sep 2011

The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) has expressed mixed feelings towards the Victorian government's Transitional Feed-in Tariff (TFIT), which was announced last Thursday (September 1).

As stated in a media release: "AuSES is disappointed the Victorian government has slashed its feed-in tariff from 60c per kilowatt hour to 25ckWh. This will put further pressure on an embattled solar industry."

The comments come after the Victorian government revealed the TFIT - which is to replace the existing premium feed-in tariff from September 30 2011.

However, AuSES had praised the decision to offer an interim scheme, rather than closing it altogether.

"AuSES is pleased the Victorian government hasn’t repeated the gross error made by the NSW Government to retrospectively change guaranteed contracts."

The leading industry body has also questioned the starting date of the TFIT, which is currently set for January 1, 2012.

AuSES asks: "Will there be any incentives for families wanting to install solar panels between October and December 2011, and will the solar industry have any work during that period?"

A review of the feed-in tariff system by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission is planned for the end of the year, allowing the government to assess the impact and sustainability of the initiative.

The decision to offer a new interim tariff came after Victorian residents leapt at the chance to take advantage of the 60c per kilowatt rate offered for excess electricity fed into the grid.

A capacity limit of 100 MW was first imposed on the premium tariff and rumours of it being reached in September have circulated for several weeks prior to the announcement.

Under TFIT, everyday Australians can expect to be paid 25c per kilowatt hour for the electricity they generate from solar panel systems that they install on their rooftops.

Once installed, the consumer must form a contractual agreement with their electricity retailer.

The scheme has opened eligibility to systems that are five kilowatts or less, meaning that regular consumers can expect to see their solar system pay itself off over a period of time once it has entered the scheme.

Feed-in tariffs have been instrumental in building popularity for solar panels in homes across the entire nation.

By providing a financial incentive to install rooftop panels, consumers have taken up solar in the home in record numbers.

- Mike Peacock - Solar Correspondent 

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