Solar Hot Water Rebate Axing Fallout

solarhotwater

The unexpected end to the Federal Government’s solar hot water rebate has sent shock-waves throughout the industry and stirred up fears a similar fate may await rebates for rooftop solar power systems.
   
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, announced the sudden closure of the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme that provided rebates of $1,000 to install a solar hot water system or $600 to install a heat pump
 
Systems must have been installed, ordered with a deposit or purchased on or before 28 February 2012. Applications lodged up to 30 June 2012 will continue to be processed.
    
The announcement has since been vigorously criticised by the industry, its supporters and those considering installing a solar hot water system. Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt labelled the action as “solar vandalism”.
    
Clean Energy Council  (CEC) Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the sudden end to the rebate will put more than 1200 manufacturing jobs and 6000 installation, sales and administrative jobs at risk. 
  
“Cutting this program without warning in the middle of a financial year is yet another example of stop-start policy making that continues to plague the entire clean energy sector. It has given the industry no time to prepare and makes business planning almost impossible.”
 
The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) called on the Australian Government to reinstate the rebate. 
 
“It seems Australians are now being punished for supporting one of the most successful clean energy programs introduced in recent years,” said AuSES Chief Executive, John Grimes.
  
“The disastrous solar policy roller-coaster continues. Another solar scheme shut down without notice, more solar jobs lost. That’s bad policy and bad process.”
  
Mr. Grimes said with water heating being the single largest source of carbon pollution associated with Australia households, it makes sense to encourage Australians to invest in solar hot water.
  
Professor Ray Wills, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA), echoed the views. 
  
“The renewable energy industry continues to be plagued by government decisions at both Federal and State levels that lead to boom/ bust cycles and fail to provide the conditions needed to grow the industry sustainably … In 2012 we should have learnt something from the poor decisions of 2011 – it appears we have not.”
  
Solar hot water systems and heat pumps will still be eligible for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), which are usually exchanged for a point-of-sale discount on systems. Depending on the state where the systems will be installed, State government incentives may also apply.
  
The rebate situation for rooftop solar panel systems currently remains unchanged, however, the Solar Credits rebate will be further slashed by 33% in a few months. Given the sudden and premature axing of the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme, some fear a nasty surprise may be lurking for the Solar Credits incentive also.