Climate Budget threatens solar industry with big sting in the tail

One of Australia's leading online renewable energy companies, Energy Matters, hopes that certain aspects of the Rudd Government's climate change budget package don't lead to a trough in the nation's renewable energy sector.

One of Australia's leading online renewable energy companies, Energy Matters, hopes that certain aspects of the Rudd Government's climate change budget package don't lead to a trough in the nation's renewable energy sector.


While largely supporting a majority of the initiatives announced in last night's budget, such as the $10,000 green loans scheme and money for solar schools, Markus Lambert, Marketing Manager, Energy Matters is very concerned that means testing solar power rebates for households earning $100,000 could force a considerable number of customers away.

"This is like putting the foot onto the solar pedal very fast, it could lead to the industry coming to a grinding halt, because currently 80% of our customers would pay off a house and to do that you need to earn over $100 000 as a household," he said.

"In my conversations with insiders of the Department of Climate change I was told that the rebate scheme was just too successful and this initiative will make the scheme more sustainable - well I disagree, because solar on roofs in the face of climate change simply can never be too successful" Mr Lambert said.

"If the government is seriously trying to fight climate change and encourage the uptake of solar energy in Australia, applying a $100,000 means test on the solar rebate isn't the way to go about it. For average families on dual incomes, especially in urban areas, $100,000 isn't a huge amount of money, not when they are contending with higher interest rates, petrol prices and grocery costs. In those circumstances, upgrading to solar energy comes way after paying the mortgage" Mr Lambert said.

He thinks that a $150,000 income would be have been a more appropriate and constructive cut-off for the means test. Indeed, this figure is the benchmark for other means tests introduced in the budget, such as the baby bonus and the Medicare surcharge

This morning Energy Matters customers already cancelled the purchase and installation of 30 rooftop solar electricity systems for homes that no longer qualify for the solar rebate.

"I think we may see a serious trough emerge in sales of solar energy systems nationwide, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, where a $100 000 income level just lets you come by"

But Mr Lambert welcomed the green loans scheme, which offers a $10,000 low-interest loan to households wanting to install solar panels and upgrade to energy efficient appliances. The loans will be paid back at the maximum rate of 2 per cent of annual gross income, with a minimum of $300 per year.

"Solar schools are also an important investment in the battle against global warming. By including children in the process of upgrading to solar power, they become personally involved and learn to value renewable energy," Mr Lambert said.

Contact: Markus Lambert
Marketing Manager | Energy Matters
31 Garnet Street Dulwich Hill NSW AUSTRALIA 2203
Phone: 02 9559 4151 | Mobile: 0449 552 190 | Fax: 03 9697 1919
Email: markus.lambert@energymatters.com.au | www.energymatters.com.au

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