SOLAR power subsidies are copping a drubbing from critics of both Federal and NSW State government’s ‘green energy’ schemes but solar installers say the sun is still shining brightly for those who would like to go sunny side up.
Paul Francis and Jock Wagner, the director and energy consultant for Greensolar Solutions, said static on the topic was obscuring the good news for householders.
This is that the price of solar systems has plummeted; the drop in the feed-in tariff has been cushioned by demand for green energy from AGL and feed-in tariffs paid to pensioners as a credit on their power bill will not be assessed as income under the government’s pension income test.
“Manufacturing capacity has shot right up and it is bringing down the overall price of systems – plus RECs and the feed-in tariff, clients are still better off than two years ago,” Mr Francis said,
Jock Wagner said the purchase price of solar voltaic systems had dropped by 40 per cent and the Commonwealth Government incentive for solar power support through Renewable Energy Certificates was still available.
A 1.5kW system currently generates about $6000 worth of RECS.
The sun may be lowering sooner than expected on this scheme; with news the Federal Climate Change Department has drafted regulations to take effect from January to slash subsidies for photovoltaic units installed in homes by 20 per cent or more, because in some places in some States the government was footing the entire bill.
Although the gross feed-in price for solar electricity paid by the NSW government has been dropped from 60c per kW hr to 20c, energy company AGL is offering an extra 8c, bringing the price available to 28c, close to the level the Clean Energy Council has recommended.
Pensioners with solar systems are being rewarded for installing solar power.
Any credits on their own power bill are free and if they receive cash payments from feed-in tariffs, these will be assessed over a 12 month period.
Pensioners can take advantage of the provision for being able to earn up to $142 a fortnight (single) or $248 a fortnight (couple) before that income affects their pension.
Solar hot water systems are an area where the sooner you move the better.
The government has already said it will phase out electric hot water systems in 2012 but subsidies are still available for moving to a solar system before you have to because your old hot water system has died.
Rebates of $1000 for solar hot water systems or $600 for heat pump systems are available now.
Solar installers resent solar power being blamed for increasing electricity prices, saying this is quite incorrect.
“The electricity price is set by the NSW Government and the 2010-2013 government price review reports that 90 per cent of the price increase is caused by network costs and the CPRS,” Jock Wagner said.
“Only five per cent of the price increase is caused by retailer margins and costs, part of which is the NSW feed-in tariff.”
Mr Wagner said estimates by both the government and the Australian Photovoltaic Association showed for an average household, the effect on their electricity bill of installing enough photovoltaic systems to produce 50 megawatts of electricity over seven years was less than the price of a cup of coffee a month.
With the price of photovoltaic systems falling and the price of mains electricity rising the APVA expects the cost of PV to equal mains NSW electricity prices about 2020.