The Clean Energy Council has join the numerous voices calling for an urgent review of the Victorian Solar Homes Program, describing it as “ridiculous” that the month-by-month quota of 3,333 systems is filled within three days.
That was the outcome when the program resumed at the start of July, after a three month break after the initial 32,000 allocation was quickly exhausted, and a similar outcome is expected in August and coming months.
It is driving the local industry mad with frustration.
Earlier this week, the Smart Energy Council joined solar industry grouping Solar Cutters in calling for the allowable household income to qualify for the rebates to be cut to $90,000 from $180,000.
The CEC agrees this could be an effective way of managing excess demand, and controlling the “solar-coaster” caused as consumer demand dries up until the next window of opportunities appears in the next month.
“We have been fielding calls and emails from you for the last few weeks about the effect that the government’s management of the program is having on your businesses and you as solar installers,” CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said in an email to solar installers on Thursday.
“It is ridiculous to have a situation where a program with a month-by-month quota filled up in the first three days of July, with the same outcome expected in the August round.
“While we support the intention of the program, it is obvious that the way it is being run is having a serious effect on the industry. Things need to change – fast.”
Thornton said the CEC had get to get a response, or indication of a support for a review from Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews or energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio.
“We are calling for the Government to commence a review of the program by the end of next week.
“While we continue to push for a review, we are seeking your help to raise this issue to the attention of the Victorian Premier. We need strong numbers to let the Premier know the seriousness of the current situation and to hear the stories from those most affected.”
The Victoria solar scheme is one of the most ambitious in the country. It aims to add some 2.6GW of rooftop solar on more than 650,000 homes over 10 years, and is accompanied by a smaller battery storage incentive.
However, the existence of the incentive has distorted demand, causing huge spikes and then lulls for the industry. In June, rooftop solar installations plunged 32 per cent, according to Sunwiz data (above).
There are industry fears that consumer interest plunged again after the monthly quote of 3,333 homes was snapped up in the first few days on July.
We have contacted the Victoria government for comment.
See also our discussion of this issue in the Solar Insiders podcast.