Solar installers to rally at Parliament House for changes to Victoria’s Solar Homes program

Solar installers rally outside Victoria's Parliament House this week.

Solar installers will rally in Melbourne this Thursday against the “stop-start” nature of Victoria’s popular Solar Homes program.

The innovative, state government program sets a national benchmark for state-funded solar rebates and has helped many Victorian households install solar panels and battery storage.

However, its sheer popularity is working against it since the government placed a limit on the number of subsidies issued each month. July’s allocation ran out in three days, leaving some solar installers in the lurch until next month’s round opens on August 1.

Victorians love solar – and need an expanded program

The Victorian Solar Rally is this Thursday, July 25 at 10.30am at Parliament House, Spring Street.

Solar installers rally outside Victoria's Parliament House this week.

Victorians love the state government’s Solar Homes program. But solar installers want it expanded.

Phase one of the Solar Homes program kicked off in August 2018. It soon reached its limit due to over-subscription.

Phase two started July 1. However, allocations were far too small, according to the Smart Energy Council (SEC). The number of rebates should be massively increased, the SEC claims.

Its CEO John Grimes says the system is also bogged down in layers of bureaucracy. For instance, a new facial recognition feature on the Solar Victoria website is not functioning properly.

Victorians love solar,” Grimes says, adding the program can get back on track once “blockages” are removed.

Solar installers want a bigger Solar Homes program

The state’s solar installations are down 30 per cent since the Andrews Government ended phase one, the SEC says. Solar installers are therefore laying off staff, with some even having to close their doors.

Grimes dubbed the much-heralded Solar Homes program a “solar coaster” of demand peaks and troughs for solar power systems.

As a result, smaller, local solar installation companies go from too many solar quotes to not enough. This then causes “great distress” along with loss of business and jobs. More rebates will fix the problem, Grimes concluded.

Call to lower the income threshold for rebates

The SEC also wants the income eligibility threshold to fall from $180,000 to $90,000 per year per household. The program should also include more solar batteries in its limited priority ‘growth’ areas.

Last week, the Clean Energy Council claimed the Solar Homes program is distorting the market by creating boom-bust cycles in the solar industry.

Eligible households can claim $2,225 off the cost of solar panels or 50 per cent of the system price.

However, applications are still open for rebates up to $4,838 on solar batteries like Tesla Powerwall 2 or Enphase.