NSW Solar Bonus Scheme Defended

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The New South Wales Solar Bonus Scheme, launched on January 1, is one of Australia’s most generous feed in tariff schemes – but isn’t without its critics.
  
Under the Solar Bonus Scheme, home owners, businesses and community groups installing grid connect solar power systems will be paid 60c per kilowatt hour for all electricity generated. The program will run for seven years, which in most circumstances when coupled with the Federal Government Solar Credits rebate is more than enough time to recoup investment on a solar power system.
  
According to Energy Minister John Robertson, the Solar Bonus Scheme should see around 33,000 new solar panel installations in New South Wales during the program, more than any state or territory.
  
However, some inside and outside the solar industry have raised several concerns.
  
The point gaining the most media coverage is that the cost the solar have-nots will be paying to subsidise the feed in tariff for those that do. Minister Robertson has dismissed this fear, saying "Our independent economic modelling shows the cost to the average household could be as little as 48 cents a bill and certainly no more than a dollar ninety a quarter."
  
A real issue that has emerged is the fact that most electricity distributors in New South Wales are not yet ready for the gross feed in tariff and a couple may not be until mid-year.
 
Another looming potential problem is the program may be a victim of its own popularity – a short term boom followed by a bust. It appears the Solar Bonus Scheme is capped at 50 megawatts and given the many precedents set in other regions around the world including Ontario, Florida and Spain, a small cap usually means a rush within the first year of the program and then the quota for the entire program is filled. While those home owners who get in early will continue to receive the premium feed in tariff for the remainder of the seven years of the program, many others may miss the boat entirely.
 
The NSW solar bonus scheme will be reviewed in 2012 or before if the cap is reached 
 
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