Rainbow Power director and store manager Paul O’Reilly fears for the future.
Rainbow Power director and store manager Paul O’Reilly fears for the future. Doug Eaton

Solar business begs for help

WHILE solar companies struggle to survive in the wake of the solarbonus scheme shut-down, keystakeholders say the industry itself is at risk of collapsing.

The Rainbow Power Company's Paul O'Reilly has had to lay off five full-time staff since December and said further redundancies were imminent if the government didn't act immediately.

While he welcomed the announcement of a review by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, he said that was expected to take up to 12 months – an untenable situation he described it as “far too little, far too late”.

Mr O'Reilly has written to Lismore MP Thomas George demanding intervention: “The Solar summit was just another talkfest ... the solar grid-feed regulations are a sham that allow energy companies to profit from solar customers,” he said. “There is now effectively no new work for solar in NSW and the Rainbow Power Company will lose its capacity to do grid-feed installations in the near future.

“We warned Mr George last September that this would be the case if a future plan wasn't made; so far we have seen no effective action by the O'Farrell Government to secure the industry's future in NSW.

“So far we have seen election promises with no details. The first solar summit was a set-up, with the product of retrospective legislation (and the second) was run by thenuclear and coal industry with the future promise of an Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal review as its only action. Needless to say, we are dismayed.”

The Australian Solar Energy Society has called for an urgent in- terim solar policy to keep the industry afloat. Chief executive John Grimes held a press conference saying policy uncertainty was costing the industry 73 jobs a day.

The society and the Solar En-ergy Industries Association urged the NSW Government to adopt a fair and equal price for solar where clean solar power is fed back into the grid, not the same price as fossil fuel or coal gener-ated power.

“This would be zero cost to taxpayers and support households wanting to install solar, cut the impact of electricity price increases and the use of carbon-polluting fossil fuel generate power,” the groups said.

Mr George was not available for comment yesterday.



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