Solar Victoria is confident it can put the challenges faced by the Victorian solar rebate program behind it, as increased allocations and improvements to the application website make for a smoother first round of October rebate applications.
The allocation of rebates under the Victorian Solar Homes scheme have continued at their rapid pace, with an allocation of 4,000 new rebates made available for the start of October being snapped up in just 80 minutes.
Applications opened at 9am this morning, and were fully exhausted by 10:20am.
Solar Victoria, the authority administrating the scheme, made some amendments to the operation of the rebate website, including more detailed information about when the website was overloaded, which it believes has reduced the stress and criticisms that have plagued the program.
Solar Victoria said that while the rebates continue to be exhausted very quickly, applications in the October round of rebates encountered fewer issues accessing the rebate website and lodging applications.
“This morning’s rebate release went smoothly and now thousands more Victorians are on their way to having cleaner, cheaper solar energy at home,” Solar Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said.
“Customers who missed out this time around will have many more opportunities to secure a rebate in the weeks ahead.”
The Victorian Government has faced calls to overhaul the design of the rebate scheme, with earlier monthly allocations of smaller numbers of rebates having inadvertently placed a cap on Victorian solar installations.
When the allocation of rebates commenced in July, just 3,333 rebates were available, which was somewhat less than the average number of systems already being installed in Victoria.
As the rebates are rather generous, up to $2,250 per Victorian household, many prospective solar customers that missed out on a rebated opted to delay the installation of systems.
This took the Victorian solar industry to a crisis point, with some installers struggling to maintain their businesses in an environment were sales became dependent on the success of customers in winning rebates in earlier allocations.
Industry representatives, including the Smart Energy Council, called on the Victorian Government to either introduce stricter means-testing for the rebates, or to increase the allocations of rebates available each month.
Solar Victoria adopted to increased the number of rebates available, almost tripling the September allocation to 9,750 rebates, and increasing the October allocation to 6,500.
The first of two rebate allocations saw 3,250 rebates made available, plus an addition 750 rebates re-allocated from earlier months for systems that were not completed.
A higher number of rebates, upwards of 5,000 rebates split up across multiple allocations each month, will be made available for the remainder of the solar homes program.
The mid-September allocation of 3,356 rebates was exhausted in just 15-minutes. The speed at which rebate allocations were exhausted prompted Solar Victoria to commence an investigation into the possibility that automated application systems were being used to mass submit applications before allocations were exhausted.
More than 20,000 rebates have been awarded since the commencement of the Victorian Solar Homes program.
The next allocation of rebates will occur on 16 October, with Solar Victoria to confirm the details of the timing and the number of rebates eligible under that round.