Issues with rebate threaten future

WHILE the O’Farrell Government’s backflip on the solar bonus scheme has been embraced by the 100,000 participants, it is a mixed blessing for the future of the industry.

Bellingen Solar’s Steve Doyle said he was glad the government had decided to honour its contracts.

“It is certainly the right thing to do,” Mr Doyle said.

“The scheme has been very successful and done a lot to help bring solar power into the mainstream.”

In his opinion, however, slowing the rebate flow (but not retrospectively) was also not a bad thing as the industry had been getting overheated.

“Things were starting to run ahead of the industry. We needed to slow down and catch up on skills.

“What we really need is to find the balance which provides incentive without overheating in the future.”

However, the ways things stand now, there are no rebates and no incentives for future consumers.

“We now have a resolution for past customers, which is good, but there is nothing for future customers.”

A spokesman for the Premier said the reduced rebate offer of 20 cents had finished on April 27.

“There will be another solar summit at the end of June or early July when the government will map out its involvement in future solar schemes,” the spokesman said.

“Net metering”, or paying people for the power they generate, will be one of the hottest issues for resolution.

Community activist Steve Moody said this was important.

“Electricity companies are making a profit out of solar power because they don’t pay for the power fed back into the grid,” Mr Moody said.

“There is absolutely no reason why the solar rebate scheme cannot be funded with the money electricity companies are making from solar power.

"Unless there is a one-for-one rebate system, ie: solar is sold to the grid for the same price it is sold to the householder, there is little chance the installation of solar panels will still be a viable investment for householders.”

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