News

Solar industry's $1b savings

Nimbin Rainbow Power Company co-director John Davis fears the NSW Coalition Government appears to hold the out-dated view that the only people interested in solar power are “hippies and inner-city yuppies”.
Nimbin Rainbow Power Company co-director John Davis fears the NSW Coalition Government appears to hold the out-dated view that the only people interested in solar power are “hippies and inner-city yuppies”.

THE NSW Government could save more than $1 billion from the State’s Solar Bonus Scheme without slashing the amount it pays households for solar power, an industry group has said.

Solar power companies peak bodies, the Australian Solar Energy Society and the Solar Energy Industries Association, yesterday announced an independent report by accounting firm Ernst & Young had confirmed industry claims “more than $1.013 billion in savings could be found ... without retrospectively voiding contracts with householders, or impacting the future of solar power generation in the State”.

The comment follows intense turmoil in the State’s solar energy sector after the NSW Government announced it would cut the amount it paid householders signed up to the Solar Bonus Scheme from 60 cents per kilowatt hour to 40 cents.

The decision was slammed at the time by Lennox Head-based Liberal MP Catherine Cusack – who was the Coalition’s environment spokeswoman before the March election – who said in a letter to Premier Barry O’Farrell many who signed up to the scheme had borrowed money based on the amount the government had set for power fed back into the grid.

The solar industry has warned the move threatens its viability and the jobs of more than 8000 people working in the sector.

More broadly, the move has triggered a backlash from people signed up to the scheme, prompting the government to offer an assistance package to anyone suffering financial hardship because of the reduced tariff.

Solar Energy Industries Association spokesman Ged McCarthy conceded the Ernst & Young figure was not precise because the government had not released the figures it was using to justify the cuts.

“We have repeatedly asked the government for the missing solar figures that will show the exact dollar figure savings, but have had to resort to a Freedom of Information request, which we have now officially lodged,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We are trying to work with the government to save the existing solar household contracts and to ensure a strong future for solar in NSW and the 8000-plus jobs on the line.”

Co-director of Nimbin-based Rainbow Power Company John Davis welcomed the report, but added the figures had been put to the State Government previously without it reacting to them.

Mr Davis said the government appeared to be holding to its assumption that the only people interested in solar power were hippies and inner-city yuppies, when the reverse was true.

“Of the people who really picked this up (the Solar Bonus Scheme) more than 70% are in rural areas,” Mr Davis said.

“What the government appears to be wanting to do is to let it die down and hope the general public has a two-week memory for this sort of thing.

"They don’t think it’s important to us.

“I don’t think this is an issue they can just sweep aside.”

Mr Davis said the tariff cut would not kill the solar industry, but could set it back several years – to the days when solar panels were viewed as toys for hobbyists rather than as a legitimate alternative power source.

Topics:  nsw government




Register now for the Our Kids Darrell Chapman Fun Run

Half-marathon veteran Zoey Dowling was the first registration for the Our Kids Darrell Chapman Fun Run.

Registrations are open for the annual Darrell Chapman Fun Run

Opinion: How Mullum Toastmasters helped me become an MC

Long term member of the Mullumbimby Toastmasters Club, Megan Young.

MC Megan Young talks about how Toastmasters helped her

Gender Matters: Funding for women to be seen and heard

Award-winning director, Gillian Armstrong, will be one of the internationally recognised industry leaders who will be involved with The Athena Project, pictured here with Lisa O'Meara from Screenworks.

Projects led by Australian women will share in more than $3m funding

Latest deals and offers

Drowning Pool gig review at Max Watt's

Drowning Pool played Brisbane with A Breach of Silence and She Cries Wolf at the Max Watt's House of Music.

Drowning Pool prove that 'bodies' hit the floor when they play

Dance to Tora's groovy chillwave

LOCALS: Byron Bay music band Tora arem, from left, Toby Tunis-Plant, Thorne Davis, Shaun Johnston, Jai Piccone and Jo Loewenthal.

The five-piece will offer a live show in Byron Bay later this month.

New Australian film a Goldstone

STARS: Jacki Weaver and David Wenham in a scene from the movie Goldstone.

Detective Jay Swan is back to the big screen

New releases: Music for super heroes

MUSIC FOR HEROES:  Artwork for The Music of DC Comics: Volume 2.

The Music of DC Comics: Volume 2 on CD and digital formats

#SaveMarinaJoyce: How ISIS theory took over youtube channel

One young Youtuber accidentally gave rise to a conspiracy theory

Local musos: Ask Minister Grant for a music grant

OPPORTUNITY: Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant has asked NSW musicians to apply for the Opportunity Development Grants Program.

Applications close on Tuesday, September 6.

Queensland's $1 town goes under the hammer today

The township of Yelarbon is up for sale.

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started