Steve Doyle and Emma Batkin outside Bellingen Solar’s new front door.
Steve Doyle and Emma Batkin outside Bellingen Solar’s new front door. Ute Schulenberg

Solar subsidy cut a blow to industry

THE loss of the NSW Government's solar rebate scheme has impacted massively on what was a fast-growing green industry.

For Bellingen Solar it has meant staff cuts of more than 50% and the need to rethink the use of space at their Church Street premises.

"The NSW Government cut what was an over-generous subsidy and put nothing in its place," co-owner Steve Doyle said.

"Now there is only what the energy companies choose to give back, which in the case of Essential Energy is nothing per kilowatt hour, while Origin offers six cents.

"It has been a tough six months - we've gone back to where we were two or three year ago."

The news however is not all bad - there is still business for the creation of stand-alone and grid-connect systems plus Kombu was looking for a new home.

"The timing has turned out to be perfect - the two businesses go so well together," co-owner Emma Batkin said.

"With Kombu arriving there is a real buzz at this end of town and under one roof we have sustainable food and sustainable energy.

"Basically the move has helped everyone."

So now Bellingen Solar has moved its offices to the back of the building next to its workshop, leaving the front of the building for Kombu.

And the future of solar power in NSW?

"We are really still in limbo because the Independent Pricing Tribunal (IPART) is not due to hand down its decision until April," Ms Batkin said.

"The preliminary finding is they will leave the pricing up to the energy companies - but until we know for sure, it is difficult to plan."



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