1,500 At NSW Solar Rally

Wednesday’s rally at Circular Quay to protest the New South Wales Government’s handling of the Solar Bonus Scheme drew around 1,500 angry solar supporters.
   
Customs House’s Barnet Long Room was the venue, but with so many in attendance, the event was held on the steps outside. National solar solutions provider Energy Matters was a primary sponsor of yesterday’s event, which was organised by the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES).
  
The action was in response to the NSW Government’s intention to close of the state’s solar feed-in tariff program to applications received after April 28 and plans to significantly cut the contracted feed in tariff rate for participating solar households receiving the original 60 cents per kilowatt hour to 40 cents. The cut could occur as early next week when the legislation is expected to be voted on. 
   
The protest also called for a legislated 1:1 feed in tariff for new connections of solar power systems to the mains grid to ensure owners received some kind of reward for their contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to provide a degree of stability for the industry.
   
NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher, was not in attendance, but several reports since state the government is continuing to refuse to back down on its decision. It’s feared that NSW’s move, labeled by Greens NSW MP John Kaye as being “outside the law“, may have larger ramifications outside the impact in NSW; including further discouraging international investment in Australia’s renewable energy sector.
   
AuSES Chief Executive Officer, John Grimes, said a potential class action was still a possibility, but he would still prefer to resolve the situation politically. Yesterday AuSES released details of what it says are promises broken by the NSW O’Farrell government in relation to the state’s Solar Bonus Scheme.
    
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has engaged a law firm to look into the legality of the State Government’s retrospective legislation and closure of the program and is inviting affected parties to register their details for a potential class action.
    
Further action is planned, including an evening meeting at Leichhardt Town Hall next week and a potential blockade of Parliament by solar installers next Tuesday when the legislation could go to vote.