SOLAR SHAKE-UP: Simon Thomas, of Kyogle-based solar installation company Sunsparks, is calling on the Federal Government tointroduce a national feed-in solar power tariff of between 30 and 40 cents a kilowatt-hour.
SOLAR SHAKE-UP: Simon Thomas, of Kyogle-based solar installation company Sunsparks, is calling on the Federal Government tointroduce a national feed-in solar power tariff of between 30 and 40 cents a kilowatt-hour. Jacklyn Wagner

Solar crackdown to flush out shonks

THE controversial axing by the NSWGovernment of its solar bonus scheme would ‘flush out get-rich-quick’ operators within the solar industry, according to Power From Nature owner Lance Hannaford, of Lismore.

Mr Hannaford has worked in the solar industry for more than 20 years and says the Government’s solar rebate had led to a situation similar to the Federal Government’s failed home insulation scheme.

“It attracted a lot of undesirables,” he said. “Whenever there is a government incentive a whole lot of experts appear.

“It’s all about the money.”

Mr Hannaford said he had backed away from the scheme by continuing to concentrate on selling stand-alone systems, which do not feed-in to the grid or earn the tariff.

“We decided to let the cheap Charlies grab the majority of the industry,” he said.

Mr Hannaford said the feed-in scheme had served a purpose by reducing the NSW carbon footprint through the high uptake of solar systems.

However, he said it was never sustainable because the Government paid 60 cents for electricity it sold for 22 cents.

“In anyone’s language, it was not going to go on for very long,” he said.

Kyogle-based solar installer Simon Thomas agreed the axing of the scheme would make it less viable for some of the shonky operators.

He said the Government scheme hadattracted companies who were cutting corners when installing panels and supplying low-quality solar units.

Mr Thomas said it was likely they would just move their operations to other states.

However, many reputable players in the industry were also being hurt by the axing of the scheme, he said.

Mr Thomas is calling on the Federal Gov-ernment to introduce a national tariff ofbetween 30 and 40 cents a kilowatt-hour.

The NSW Greens are expected to introduce legislation into State Parliament this week to take the rate back up to 30 cents.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said 40 cents would be better, but 30 cents would allow the industry to keep going over the shorter term.

Premier Kristina Keneally has defended the decision, saying cutting the feed-in tar-iff back avoided an additional $2.5 billion in costs being passed on to households over the next six to seven years.



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