Solar Power Made A Scapegoat In NSW.. Again

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In the lead-up to state elections in New South Wales, solar power has again been portrayed as a villain and green programs have again been made victims.
   
Premier Kristina Keneally announced yesterday that electricity customers will not pay any extra charges to cover the costs of the Solar Bonus Scheme. The Premier said the decision will save NSW families more than $100 in 2011/12 alone.
    
But instead of footing any bill through reducing fossil fuel support, a sector that is one of the real villains of climate change, the NSW government has decided to redirect uncommitted funds from the NSW Climate Change Fund, as well as drawing $55 million in efficiencies from the electricity network businesses.
   
According to Energy Matters CEO Jeremy Rich, the decision is puzzling.
   
“Coal and fossil fuels generate the greenhouse gases that contribute to the climate change disaster unfolding before us. But instead of taking any funding needed from those sectors which would then help further encourage renewable energy uptake, it’s going to come out of initiatives that seek to address the major environmental issues of our time. It’s a bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Meanwhile, fossil fuel continues to enjoy a huge level of taxpayer funded support, the costs of which may not be on the sticker price at the pump or at the wall switch; but are represented in other ways.”
   
“U.S. President Barack Obama pointed out in his recent State of the Union speech that oil companies are doing so well, he’s aiming to pull their subsidisation in order to fund clean energy projects – they were words previously thought impossible to come from a U.S. President. Here was a great opportunity for Premier Keneally to follow his lead.” 
   
Mr. Rich says that New South Wales is in danger of becoming a solar wasteland and falling behind in the renewable energy revolution so critical to Australia’s future.
   
“Last year, New South Wales lead the way in many respects in regard to solar power. In a very short space of time, it seems to be becoming a renewable energy backwater – and that is not only going to impact on the state’s emissions, but on employment too.”
 
“The way that solar power has been made the villain in New South Wales in recent months is incredibly disappointing. It’s been reported that solar is not the major contributor to electricity price hikes – it’s the ageing electrical infrastructure in the state that is mostly to blame; infrastructure that is still going to need to be replaced.”
   
Mr. Rich also referred to the era of cheap energy that never was; where heavily subsidised fossil fuels were and are racking up an unseen debt that is now demanding to be paid.
   
“Professor Ross Garnaut, the Federal Government’s climate change advisor, also made a relevant comment a few days ago – that the longer our nation puts off tackling the climate change issue, the more expensive it’s going to become to deal with it. Band-aid solutions in the lead up to an election only mean more aggressive surgery will need to be performed down the track. Making solar a scapegoat and cutting off green funding while subsidising cheap coal for power generation will haunt us.”