Lindsay Hill.
Lindsay Hill. The Northern Star/Jacklyn Wagner

Green light for solar power scheme

SOARING electricity prices, not the fear of a warming planet, led Lindsay Hall to fork out $20,000 to install solar panels on his East Lismore home.

While he originally thought it would take a few years to recoup the cost, his horizon has just been dramatically shortened.

Mr Hall said the State Government's decision this week to pay households for the power they put back into the electricity grid meant he could pay for the entire installation over a much shorter period.

“It makes it much more financially enticing,” Mr Hall said yesterday.

The 12-panel system, which is twice the size installed by most households, will generate about 10 kilowatt hours per day, enough to power the family's electricity needs – and then some.

Under the new feed-in tariff scheme, this excess green power can be sold back into the system, generating income for households.

Climate Change Minister Carmel Tebbutt said: “A feed-in tariff makes solar panels more affordable because people are paid for the clean energy they produce,” she said.

The ABC has reported that this could be worth up to 60 cents per kilowatt, four times the conventional electricity price.

However, a spokeswoman for Ms Tebbutt said the figure would be set by a special taskforce set up by the Government to work out the implementation of the scheme.

The taskforce must also work out the vexed issue of whether the tariff should be gross or net.

It is unclear if the Government will follow Victoria's lead and adopt a net tariff, whereby households are paid only for what they put into the state's electricity grid, or a gross tariff. Under the gross tariff, households are paid for the spare power they export and what they use at home, as this is not taken out of the grid.

Nick Lake, of Nickel Renewable Energy, which installed the Hall's panels, said until a decision is made on the type of tariff it would be impossible for people to determine the financial benefit of the scheme.

The taskforce is expected to report back by January, with the scheme expected to be implemented by mid-next year.

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