Solar panel owners rally in Lismore in May after the State Government slashed the amount paid from 60 to 40cents/kWh for electricity fed into the grid by solar panels. Jerad Williams
Solar panel owners rally in Lismore in May after the State Government slashed the amount paid from 60 to 40cents/kWh for electricity fed into the grid by solar panels. Jerad Williams

Energy retrofitting gets turn off

THE end of the Renewable Energy Bonus scheme means a 50% drop in retrofitting of energy efficient devices to existing homes across the Northern Rivers.

Environmental consultant Gordon Fraser-Quick said the retro-fitting of existing electric water heaters had not been strong lately in the area, and with the end of the scheme "the market will reduce to less than half".

However, all new dwellings are being equipped with solar hot water systems and that demand has not changed.

"The schemes encourage sustainability and affordability, which are very good. But when the benefits are removed suddenly, the Government is in a position when it is arguing the benefits of sustainability but not following this up with the right policies."

Richmond MP Justine Elliot said "the Solar Hot Water Rebate closing date has always been 2012. Australians will still receive assistance to install solar hot water through Small-scale technology Certificates, providing a discount of around $1,000 off the up-front cost of the average solar or heat pump hot water system".

MP Janelle Saffin added that "I do not like the sudden nature of the cessation of these schemes. There is a pool of money allocated and when it is spent, they close. They thought that it might last to April, but that was all. One local small business owner emailed me and he said that he was surprised at its cessation, so suddenly he said".

Saffin explained that households installing a typical solar hot water system, "will still receive between $800 and $1000 in Renewable Energy Certificates and there is still support for the solar and heat pump systems will continue through State and Territory programs".

"In addition, the installation of solar hot water system is eligible for support under the Low Carbon Communities program, worth over $330 million.

"The solar and heat pump industry can also seek assistance under the Clean Technology Innovation Program to support further innovation and product improvement.

Meanwhile, a new national grassroots movement is launching a campaign called "Let's build big solar".

The local launch will be held on Monday from 11.30am at Heritage Park in Lismore.

Tom Driftwood, one of the organisers, invited the community to attend the launch.

"We need to stop focusing in small rooftop solutions and we need to shift to big solar projects, around Australia

"We will be contacting Janelle Saffin after the launch to start a discussion with local politicians".

Ms Saffin is open to talking about the issue: "I certainly support the idea, but would have to do more research to know if it can happen.

"I am aware of the Moree Project and want to get a good look at it.

"I would like us to have solar energy communities and work with local governments in my seat of Page to see if we can achieve this."

 

Solar savings

NSW Home Saver Rebate:

Government level: State NSW

Active for: 17 months

Benefit: $300 to households for replacing an electric water heater with solar.

End date: June 30, 2011.

 

NSW Solar Bonus Scheme:

Government level: State NSW

Active for: 18 months

Benefit: 60 cent tariff for Megawatt for solar households.

End date: July 1, 2011 tariff decreased to 40c for existing and 20c for new households.

 

Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme:

Government level: Federal

Active for: 24 months

Benefit: $1000 rebate for a solar or $600 for a heat pump hot water system.

End date: February 20, 2012.



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