Strengthening Victoria’s new solar laws

Suggested legislative amendments to the Brumby Government’s solar legislation.

On Monday May 5th 2008 the Brumby Government released some details of its much anticipated solar feed-in tariff. The announcement was met with extreme disappointment by the 40-odd community groups, businesses, unions and councils that had been campaigning for and supporting effective solar lawsi. If the Government’s proposed solar laws pass through Parliament they will do little to support solar power, solar industry development and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

There is still an opportunity to salvage the solar laws as they pass through Parliament, so that we can develop a thriving solar industry in Victoria. The Brumby Government’s solar laws are now even weaker than they were when they were announced as the Federal Government has since imposed a means test excluding households that earn over $100,000 annually from eligibility for the Federal solar rebate of $8000.

We are calling on all politicians in both houses of Parliament to work within their parties to make the following amendments to Premier Brumby’s proposed solar feed-in tariff.

Make the 60c KWh tariff payable on gross, not just net generation

The Victorian Government has shunned the experience of over 40 nations with feed-in tariffs and has decided only to pay the tariff only when household generation of solar power exceeds household energy use, and electricity is therefore fed back into the grid. To be an effective driver for investment in solar power the legislation should be amended to pay the 60c KWh tariff on ALL electricity generation from a solar system for a rolling 15 year period.

Increase the system size limit for the 60c KWh tariff to 10 KW and allow businesses and community organisations to participate

Introduce a 48c KWh tariff for systems between 10 KW and 100 KW. The Brumby Government’s model excludes any solar systems of 2 KW and above. This will effectively deter households from installing larger systems – surely a perverse incentive for a scheme that is supposed to encourage solar power. The Brumby Government’s model also excludes business, local government and community organisations like churches from participating. This restriction should be removed to encourage all sectors to invest in renewable energy.

Ensure low income households are not negatively impacted by the scheme

While the Brumby Government claimed it introduced a weak model in order to protect low income households, there is no such protection in the Government’s model. Advocates for an effective feed-in tariff would like to see concession card holders exempted from any electricity price rises to ensure that low income households are not unfairly hit by the cost of this or other measures. While much has been made of electricity price rises it is worth remembering that a feed-in tariff could actually reduce electricity prices, as it has in Germany, as they have prevented the need to build expensive peaking plant and have contributed energy to the grid on hot sunny days when electricity prices are highest.

Allow other renewable micro-generation technologies to participate in the feed-in tariff

Farming groups have expressed an interest in installing micro wind-turbines (with blades 1-2 metres in diameter) and participating in the scheme. The scheme should be expanded to allow other renewable micro-generation technologies to participate.

For further information:

  • Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham 0439 700 501
  • ATA Energy Policy Manager Brad Shone 0432 251 456
  • Moreland Energy Foundation CEO Paul Murfitt 0401 990 273

The following organizations have expressed their support for a gross metering solar feed-in tariff that protects low income households:

Victorian Farmer’s Federation, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Environment Victoria, Moreland Energy Foundation, Municipal Association of Victoria, Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Szencorp Pty Ltd, Going Solar, The Environment Shop, Alternative Technology Association, Victorian Local Governance Association, Clean Energy Council, Construction Queen, WestWyck Pty Ltd, BP Solar, Carbon Market Economics, Climate Group, Solco, Sustainable Solutions P/L, RFI, Sharp (Solar Panel Manufacturer), Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action, Environment Defenders Office (EDO), Greenpeace, Australian Conservation Foundation, Carbon Equity, Mt Alexander Sustainability Group, Electrical Trades Union, Lighter Footprints, Greenleap Strategic Institute, Friends of the Earth, Murrindindi Climate Network, Nillumbik Climate Action Now, Albury-Wodonga Environment Health, Albury Wodonga Towards Climate Health, (WATCH), Border Eco-Living Program, Yarra Climate Action Now, National Toxics Network, Australian Youth Climate Coalition

See also