Will Premier Campbell Newman Reap The Solar Whirlwind?

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman

The Australian Solar Council says Queensland’s upcoming State election will be a critical one for Australia’s solar industry.

Queenslanders yesterday discovered they will be heading to the polls on January 31 after an announcement by Premier Campbell Newman of a snap election.

Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes has wasted no time in reminding the people of Queensland of Premier Newman’s track record when it comes to solar.

“The Sunshine State is a natural home for solar but Campbell Newman’s Government has been determined to shove solar where the sun doesn’t shine.”

Mr. Grimes stated anti-solar activity by the Newman Government included the Premier’s call to abolish the Renewable Energy Target.

He says the Newman Government has also systematically shut down all clean energy and climate change programs and points out there have been no new big solar or large-scale renewable energy projects in Queensland under this government.

In 2013, Premier Newman and Energy Minister Mark McArdle also plotted to hit solar households with higher electricity charges – plans that were scuttled by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA).

Another attempt by Premier Newman to rein in  solar in Queensland backfired; resulting in  increasing uptake of solar panels through a bungled phase-down of the state’s Solar Bonus Scheme.

In terms of the total number of small solar power systems; Queensland leads the nation – and it’s little wonder. A 4.5kW solar panel system installed in Brisbane can provide estimated electricity bill savings of between $1,180 and $1,900 a year depending on installation location and consumption profile according to solar provider Energy Matters.

Queensland has the second highest residential solar market penetration rate in Australia – 20 per cent.  That’s a lot of households and a lot of voters who may not have forgotten about the Newman Government’s sustained attack on owners of solar power systems.

Mr. Grimes also sees a bigger picture – one at a national level that involves the Coalition Government.

“The Abbott Government can be moved to a sensible position on solar and renewable energy by sending a very strong message through the Queensland election campaign, and that is precisely what the Australian Solar Council will be doing,” he said.

“We will support any political party that supports good solar policy and we will campaign strongly against any political party that is determined to destroy solar.”

Image credit: Andrew Kesper