Household solar rebates increase
The State Government has responded to demand in its Solar Homes program, bringing forward an extra 23,000 household rebates into 2019-20 financial year.
While the number of rebate allocations remain unchanged in the overall 10-year program, more allocations have become available sooner rather than later.
The move means 65,000 rebates will be available under the scheme this financial year instead of 42,000.
The government, in announcing the move, modified its rebate-release schedule, releasing rebates fortnightly instead of monthly in an effort to ensure a more consistent supply of work for solar-system installers.
Solar Homes Minister Lily D’ambrosio said on top of bringing the rebates forward, the industry had agreed to a package of reforms that would boost safety and quality, with more audit staff, stronger fraud prevention and better information-sharing involved in the process.
She said Victorians could be sure their chosen retailer was safe and reliable, with the Labor government also establishing a public register of solar installers, with unsafe and unscrupulous installers removed from the program and named on the register.
This would be supported by small-business mentoring and workforce training for installers.
Ms D’ambrosio said a Solar Victoria web portal would also be streamlined and improved to make it simpler for households to apply for a rebate.
In other reforms, a new Industry and Consumer Reference Group would bring together
industry groups, consumers, Solar Victoria and government to provide advice and inform the decade-long roll-out.
The $1.3-billion Solar Homes program involves the installation of solar panels, hot water or batteries in 770,000 homes during the next 10 years.
The scheme is designed to save Victorian households more than $890 a year on energy bills, create more than 5500 jobs, boost energy supply and reduce carbon emissions.
“We’re strengthening this landmark program, which has already helped 35,000 households put a power station on their roof, saving them hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills,” Ms D’ambrosio said.
“We’ve listened to Victorians and to the solar industry about how we can make Solar Homes better. These measures will mean cheaper bills for more Victorians this year and provide a shot in the arm for the industry.”
Adrian Wade from Wimmera solar retailer Wades welcomed the changes.
“It’s fantastic news. Many of our customers have been stressed and worried they haven’t been able to access these rebates. The increase in numbers should help clear the backlog and help get systems installed,” he said.
“Overall this is a good scheme – but people have struggled with it. Many of our older residents for example haven’t been able to navigate through the process and this should make it a lot easier.
“One change that people without access to a computer should be aware of is that the government will reserve some rebates each month for manual applications.”
The Clean Energy Council and Smart Energy Council have welcomed the change.