Zero Net Emissions by 2025

Cuts to solar power protect profits at the big end of town

Posted on 5 September 2012 by e-news

The Mount Alexander Sustainability Group (MASG) is disappointed that the State Government will cut the money households and small businesses get paid for their solar electricity from 25c to 8c.

“The government should be looking after the interests of pensioners, families, local businesses and tradespeople, but unfortunately this policy seems to be all about protecting the profits the of the big end of town,” said Dean Bridgfoot, project officer for MASG.

“Most people who own solar panels in our area are pensioners, people with young families and those on fixed incomes,” Mr Bridgfoot said.

“People with modest incomes, trying to take control of their electricity bills and doing the right thing for the environment will now be getting paid less for their electricity than big corporations that make their power from outdated and polluting coal power stations.

“The panel owners we work with and the dozens of people who call us up every week are part of the solution to climate change and higher electricity bills.

“Building infrastructure and producing power at peak times is the main cause of rising electricity prices. Solar panels produce electricity at peak times, reducing the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades. That should make electricity cheaper for all of us and there should be paid a fair price for that electricity.

“Premier Baillieu is letting electricity retailers buy the electricity off solar panels at peak time for 8c so they can then sell it to your next door neighbour for 30c. It would appear that Mr Baillieu is using electricity from PV owners to prop up the profit margins for electricity retailers.”

Mr Bridgfoot said this step would cost jobs in regional and rural towns such as Castlemaine, which has a higher uptake of solar panels than wealthier suburbs in Melbourne.

Castlemaine electrician and PV panel installer Stephen Breheny is not impressed with the changes.

“I install systems on the roofs of local houses and businesses,” he said.

“I employ three apprentices and install systems on the roofs of local houses and businesses. I had previously employed nine people but as the feed in tariffs reduced, the amount of uptake in solar also reduced.

“I’d like to employ more people and install more systems; after all it’s the industry of the future. Yet decisions like this made by out-of-touch politicians in Spring Street just seem to make it harder and harder for local businesspeople.”

MASG is calling on the State Government to reinstate the payment for solar electricity to be on a par with what people buy their electricity from retailers.


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