Victoria "throwing in the towel" on FIT scheme

7th Sep 2012

A top broadcaster has weighed in on the Victoria feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme argument that has been raging this week, accusing the government of "throwing in the towel" on cleaner-energy alternatives.

The state revealed it would be lowering its current rebate rate of 25 cents per kilowatt hour down to just eight cents, with Victoria's energy minister Michael O'Brien going as far as to say FITs were having no effect on the rise in demand for solar panels.

And now Beverley O'Connor, presenter of ABC's Asia Pacific News service, has decided to jump on the bandwagon with other critics who have lambasted the decision.

"To suggest, as the government seemed to do this week, that families that have had the foresight to have solar panels installed were causing the current slew of exorbitant electricity bills is misleading spin," she wrote in an article for the Herald Sun. 

Beverley commented that it was a convenient way to cause strife between the state's rich and poor citizens, despite recent official figures showing that households from both ends of the spectrum had invested in the initiative.

"As both sides of federal politics push for ways to make a serious impact on carbon emissions, encouraging us [to] make the most of our abundant sunshine by installing solar panels made a lot of sense," she added.

"Hitting investment in solar panels is a bad move," the journalist continued, adding that the Baillieu Government has left a much weaker scheme, missing out on a fantastic opportunity for development.

Her comments come just days after Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services berated the decision, describing Mr O'Brien's remarks on the issue as "staggeringly ignorant".

Mr O'Brien had said demand rose 33 per cent when they cut the scheme from a previous rate of 60 cents to 25 cents, although Nigel rebuffed this by claiming it was because homeowners rushed to take advantage of the new price before it was reduced further.

According to Ms O'Connor, one of the biggest problems with lowering it to eight cents is that it will fail to encourage people to put up the original outlay for solar energy systems.

She claimed that industry experts have said that between 12 and 15 cents would be the perfect amount – both raising demand in solar energy, without over-compensating customers.

Australia can't be forever frightened of taking the plunge on renewable technology schemes, Beverley commented, as the alternative is costly infrastructure projects such as the desalination plant at Wonthaggi.

Auditors recently revealed the structure will cost the state's taxpayers $24 billion over the next 28 years, with the Herald reporting that rust problems are plaguing the inside pipes.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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