Victorian Government Urged To Extend Solar Feed In Tariff

With the Victorian Government reportedly preparing to slash Victoria’s premium solar feed in tariff rate for new applications soon, solar power industry bodies have called for a sensible approach to avoid a meltdown similar to what has occurred elsewhere.

National solar power solutions provider Energy Matters reported on August 4 that a meeting held that day between the Clean Energy Council (CEC) and the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) resulted in the DPI stating an intention to begin phasing out the current program soon for new connections through a reduction in incentive levels.

Owners of rooftop solar panels participating in the current scheme are paid or credited 60c per kilowatt hour for surplus electricity generated by their systems that is exported to the mains grid.

Energy Matters estimates an entry level 1.4kW system can return a benefit of up to $872 per year in Victoria under the current program. The company is currently offering special solar package deals in an effort to help as many Victorian households as possible lock in the current feed in tariff rate.

The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) has called on the Victorian Government to honour its 2010 election commitment and hold off on drastic changes to the feed in tariff before the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s review of the scheme later this year.

“At an equivalent cost of less than two cups of coffee per household per year, the scheme is extremely cheap and is not hurting Victorian electricity consumers. We are not in a New South Wales-type situation here,” said Ian Porter, ATA Chief Executive.

While even an entry-level home solar power system can provide a substantial buffer against rapidly increasing electricity costs without a premium feed in tariff incentive, the abrupt end to New South Wales’ Solar Bonus Scheme saw the industry go into a tailspin; resulting in job losses and some companies closing their doors.

“The last thing we need now is to end the tariff scheme too early, killing the Victorian solar industry and consumer confidence with it,” said Damien Moyse, the ATA’s energy projects and policy manager.

According to an article on The Age web site, Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh has called for Victoria’s solar feed in tariff to be extended for up to two years for new applications and stated while there was a case for maintaining a current payout rate of 60¢ per kilowatt hour, the Council would support a reduced rate of between 35-40¢.