IPART Calls For End To Solar Credits Rebate

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The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) ignorance of the value home solar power systems contribute to Australia’s energy mix seems to be showing again.
  
According to a report published on The Telegraph, IPART sent a submission to Energy Minister Martin Ferguson this week containing a call to end the Solar Credits multiplier, claiming the scheme is not achieving emissions reductions or renewable energy production at least cost.
   
IPART was heavily criticised for its lack of understanding regarding the benefits of small-scale rooftop solar panel systems following the release of what it considered a “fair and reasonable” value for solar electricity exported to the mains grid.
   
Assuming The Telegraph report is correct, the government body should have also been aware it will get its wish in the near future – the Solar Credits rebate will be slashed 33% soon, and then in July 2013, it will effectively no longer exist as the multiplier upon which the rebate is based will be dropped to 1.
   
As has been pointed out so often in the past, but is often ignored by some corners – renewable energy technologies such as solar power are competing against fossil fuels that have been heavily subsidised in various forms for decades, and continue to be. This support does not come from thin air; it is paid for by everyone in taxes or by important community services not receiving the funding they need to operate effectively.
   
It’s not a situation unique to Australia. In the USA, the fossil fuel industry has been riding the subsidy gravy train for such a long time that U.S President Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union speech, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”
  
Every new energy industry has required some form of subsidisation in its infancy and the fact home solar power is approaching grid parity – without subsidisation – with these long heavily-subsidised and polluting fossil fuels is testimony to its economic street cred and value. 
 
A helping hand to get there won’t be wasted – or of course there is always the option of removing more support from the fossil fuel industry to create a level playing field.