It’s been reported Tasmania’s government may soon launch a no-interest loans scheme that would assist households and small businesses install solar power systems.
An ABC article states the Government is readying to offer zero-interest loans to all households and small businesses for energy efficiency improvements. Originally flagged in May, $10 million appears to have been earmarked to fund the scheme.
The ABC understands the loans will be up to $4,000 for households and up to $10,000 for small businesses.
Energy Minister Matthew Groom is keeping his cards close to his chest regarding the nature of the scheme.
“We want it to extend to solar including solar hot water, but it will apply to other appliances including for example a heat pump,” said the Minister when pressed for details.
“We will be launching that scheme towards the end of this year.”
An existing energy efficiency loan/grant scheme in the state is only available to low income earners and doesn’t appear to extend to solar panels.
The new loan scheme could prove popular after all businesses and households in Tasmania on standing electricity offers were hit with a power price rise of 3.43% from July 1.
While the cost of installing solar power in Tasmania has plummeted in recent years; the up-front investment has discouraged some from taking a major step in increasing their energy independence. However, zero-deposit payment plans offered by some providers are making solar more accessible.
For businesses, commercial solar PPA arrangements can also mean zero up-front outlay in some cases and help lock in electricity pricing over a long term.
The Minister also wouldn’t be drawn on the issue of solar feed-in tariff payments. He said he didn’t wish to give the impression the Government will soon again increase the payment, but that it was important it understood the role solar can play in Tasmania’s energy mix.
Currently, the rate is 6.671 c/kWh for exported surplus solar electricity – an increase of 21% compared to 2015/16. In May, research (PDF) by the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance (TREA) and Solar Citizens indicated the electricity is worth between 17 and 22c/kWh.
In other renewable energy related news from the Apple Isle, the Tasmanian government has been criticised for not including the prospect of a state-based renewable energy target in the recently released Energy Security Taskforce consultation paper.
Greens spokesperson Rosalie Woodruff said the state should be establishing an official 100 percent target by 2022.