Solar Credits Rebate Reduction : Energy Matters

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The Australian government’s announcement yesterday to bring forward the phasing out of financial support for home solar power under the Solar Credits program has stirred up the usual controversy and questioning of Australia’s commitment and approach to a clean energy future.
  
According to Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage Greg Hunt, “This confirmation of solar chaos demonstrates again a pattern of environmental disaster under Labor.” 
  
The solar industry is expecting to be heavily impacted by the change to Solar Credits says Energy Matters CEO Jeremy Rich. 
  
“While at least this time around there’s been notice of the change instead of the “midnight tonight” type rebate-change deadlines we’ve seen in the past; this doesn’t bode well for the industry, green jobs, households wanting to reduce emissions and avoid looming electricity hikes; nor does it bode well for the environment.” 
  
“For example, everyone is still hurting from the slashing of the New South Wales feed in tariff  just over a month ago; to the point some in the industry have already laid off staff. Add this extra gutting of solar rebates from next July and it’s another nail in the coffin for a bright future for home solar power in that state. It certainly won’t help improve uptake in other states either.” 
   
Mr Rich acknowledges that the price of solar power equipment has come down, but there is still some way to go to make it truly competitive with fossil fuel based generation. 
   
“Reducing solar subsidisation before introducing a carbon price will set back our industry dramatically. How long before a price will actually be applied to carbon to reflect fossil fuel’s true cost in terms of environmental damage? With coal’s considerable subsidies, we’re going to be in a position yet again when the balance is even more in favour of fossil fuels until that time comes.” 
   
“Reduce, even remove solar subsidisation by all means, but ensure that fossil fuel’s true financial, environmental and human health costs are included in the sticker price, not hidden as they are now. Additionally, remove all coal subsidies in all their forms and we’ll then see solar power is not only clean, but it’s comparatively cheap”, said Mr. Rich 
   
Mr Rich said that while the Solar Credits system wasn’t perfect, there were other ways issues of concern could have been addressed. Although Mr. Rich believes the latest announcement will certainly see more solar providers going to the wall, he says it has only strengthened Energy Matters’ resolve. 
    
“Even with this latest change that will come into effect for systems installed from 1st July 2011, we remain committed to Australia’s solar revolution and empowering households. By installing solar, Australian families not only reduce their household emissions, but also save substantially on rapidly increasing electricity costs. Between now and July next year, Energy Matters will be doing its utmost to provide as many households as we can with a top quality, low cost home solar power system while the full-strength Solar Credits are in place.”