Panel owners welcome backflip
A MASSIVE backflip by the NSW Government will see households with solar power systems with more dollars in their pockets and the solar industry saved from a major threat.
However, the decision could contribute to homeowners who are still reliant on the grid paying a higher price for their electricity.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced yesterday the government would honour the promise to pay households with solar power systems 60 cents a kilowatt hour for the electricity they generate as part of the Solar Bonus Scheme.
Last month it proposed to slash the feed-in tariff to 40 cents after discovering what it said was a cost blowout of the scheme introduced by the previous Labor government.
The O’Farrell Government’s cost-cutting led to a severe downturn in the solar industry, as well as disillusionment among voters and protests from inside the Coalition.
The decision to reduce the rebate was slammed by Lennox Head-based Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack, who was the Coalition’s environment spokeswoman before the election and who yesterday said she had made a promise to constituents and had been keen to honour it.
Ms Cusack praised the “really fantastic” behind-the-scenes work of local MPs Steve Cansdell, Don Page and Thomas George.
“I am very grateful for the work they were doing (to have the feed-in tariff maintained),” she said.
Rainbow Power Company co-director Paul O’Reilly welcomed the backflip, but said the O’Farrell Government’s decision to slash the rebate had “thrown a seed of doubt into solar investment”.
Clarence MP Steve Cansdell described the change as “a good outcome”.
“We let the leadership know how passionate constituents were about this issue,” he said.
“It’s a great result for the backbenchers who stood up for their constituents and a great result for the industry.”
Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page, said he and his colleagues had been “very aware of community concerns”.
“None of us were comfortable about the retrospective aspect of the decision,” he said.
“We were also aware that we had a scheme that hadn’t been properly costed and the government was trying to address that.
“Unfortunately there may be a cost association for the general (electricity) user.”
Premier O’Farrell warned the cost blow-out in the scheme was likely to mean higher power bills “over the next few years”.
Saved by the backflip
AMONG the chorus of those welcoming yesterday’s State Government backflip on planned cuts to the Solar Bonus Scheme, Deb Parry’s voice rang clear.
Ms Parry, of Bexhill, said her family installed a 3.7kW system in February in the hope of slashing their $1000 a quarter power bills and planned to pay off the system in five years.
“The 40 cents rebate would have meant it would take eight years,” she said.