At the start of May, renewable energy appeared to be on the up, smashing records with each state well on its way to hitting its renewable energy target.
But an unexpected turn of events in Victoria and Queensland has landed the solar industry in uncharted territory.
If you’re a solar customer living in Victoria or Queensland or are about to be, read on to find out how the new changes will affect your household.
On May 15, the Victorian government announced that it would be ending all solar rebates issued under its Solar Homes Package until July 1.
The sudden decision has come in response to stronger than expected demand for the rebates, which led the Clean Energy Council to step in to ease the burden on the solar industry.
Approximately 14,000 rebates allocated for solar systems that were yet to be installed will still continue, with Solar Victoria now contacting customers and encouraging them to proceed with their installation or complete their application.
What it means for you
According to Solar Victoria, Aussies who have already submitted applications will still continue to be processed, while those who had planned to apply will have to wait until applications reopen.
In addition to the solar PV rebate, come July 1 an interest-free loan will also be granted, allowing Aussies to access the benefits of solar with no up-front costs.
If you are thinking of applying for the Solar Homes Package rebate, Mozo’s energy expert, Nathan Warne has reminded Aussies that while it now may seem like a dead end, owning solar panels can be worth the wait.
“While installing solar panels can save up to $890 per year, the rebate could amount up to $2,225 of the cost of installation, so it might be worthwhile to wait until applications open again if you’re eligible.” he said.
“And unlike taking out a personal loan, the interest-free loan would mean you'd save on interest."
A new regulation from the Palaszczuk Government which means only licensed electricians can handle solar projects of 100kWh or more, has forced many solar labourers in Queensland to put their tools down.
According to Anna Freeman, the Clean Energy Council’s Director of Energy Generation, the new regulation has come out of nowhere and is expected to cause many projects to be delayed, as it will be hard to find enough electricians to work.
She then went on to say that the new regulation was “absurd” and that workers currently employed on solar projects were more than qualified to complete the task.
“The affected workers were trained, experienced and entirely capable of doing the mechanical tasks of mounting unconnected solar panels. The mounting of electrical equipment is not even classed as electrical work under the state Electrical Safety Act (2002), and it could easily be performed by local labourers and trades assistants as it has to date.”
What it means for you
If you are a Queenslander looking to have solar panels installed, you may find that sourcing an electrician may take longer and be more expensive, which Freeman said could now also put the state’s renewable energy target in jeopardy.
“In the short term, Queenslanders can expect the asking price of electricians to increase, due to the sharp increase in electricians that will be required to complete large-scale solar projects,” she said.
“We think that this puts Queensland’s chances of reaching its 50% renewable energy target at risk. We are calling on the government to rethink this costly and pointless regulation and come back to the table to find an alternative approach to dealing with its stated safety concerns.”
But despite the sudden change in the solar industry, Aussies can still play their part in the renewable energy movement by opting for an electricity plan with a GreenPower option.
You can compare energy plans with a GreenPower option by heading over to our energy comparison tool.
Find energy plans available in your area in just seconds.