Victorian households looking to take advantage of the state’s home battery rebate have just over one month left to apply for the nearly $3,000 discount, with the scheme set to close on June 30 ahead of a switch to a zero interest loan offering.
Solar Victoria, which administrates the Solar Homes Program for the Labor Andrews government, has revealed that while the scheme’s flagship rooftop solar rebate will remain in place – and stay at its current level of $1,400 – a change to the home battery offering is decided.
Instead of a point-of-sale discount on a home battery of up to a maximum of $2,950, from July 01 this year, households will be able to apply for four-year, interest-free loans of up to $8,800 each funded through the Solar Homes Program.
Solar Victoria says $16 million dollars has been allocated in the latest state budget to the enable the delivery of 4,500 interest-free loans through the program for 2023-24.
“Applications for battery rebates will no longer be accepted from 30 June, with the loan offering to be launched after 1 July 2023, once program design is complete,” a Solar Victoria statement said on Wednesday.
“Rebate applications received prior to 30 June will be processed and those approved will be provided with adequate time to have their battery installed and rebate paid. Solar Victoria is working towards a seamless transition from one incentive to the other and program design is already underway.”
The news is likely to spark a last minute rush on the scheme’s remaining solar battery rebates, which on Wednesday numbered 782, according to the Solar Homes portal.
Compared to the highly successful rooftop solar rebate, which in the early days of the program regularly saw thousands of applications snapped up within hours, the battery offer has been much more of a slow burner, even if it has surpassed its targets of more 15,000 discounted systems installed over its lifetime so far.
But Solar Victoria CEO Stan Krpan says the zero interest loan is in many ways a more generous offer, factoring in the time allocated to pay off the zero interest loan and the energy savings a solar battery promises to deliver over that period.
(On average, Solar Victoria finds that households that install rooftop will save somewhere between $700 and $1,000 a year, and an additional $300 a year when they add a battery.)
The change to the battery scheme is also in keeping with the rooftop solar offer, which alongside the current $1,400 rebate offers a matching $1,400 interest-free loan.
“I think it’s recognising that our interest free loan on PV has been really popular,” Krpan tells One Step Off The Grid.
“We’ve had 200,000 customers take that up. Two thirds of our customer take up the interest free loan at the same time that they take up the rebate.
“And what we’ve heard from industry is that an interest free loan for the battery would be attractive, too.
“And so we’d haven’t… decided on the exact details of it; who it will be available to, when, whether you can get a rebate as well as the loan, a whole range of different options.
“All of those things will be considered and then we’ll have more to say on that prior to July.”
In the meantime, Krpan says Solar Victoria is bracing for rush on the remaining battery rebates out to June 30.
“I would expect that those people who want the rebate are going to come in pretty thick and fast before the before the end of June and we’ll manage that, obviously,” he says.
“June is our one of our strongest months, anyway – whether or not we’re reducing the rebate there’s generally a surge … in the lead up to financial year – we started to see that last week, even ahead of budget.
“And so we would expect that will continue to June.”
On rooftop solar, the Solar Homes offering remains the same, with another 53,000 rebates allocated for delivery for the new financial year. And notably, the rebate amount is not being ratcheted down this year, instead staying at $1,400.
“I think that’s really reflecting what we’re hearing from industry, which is, you know, costs are going up, people are under a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of economic uncertainty, leave the rebate and don’t put that pressure on them,” Krpan says.
“So I think the government’s listened and that’s the kind of key part of the budget [for Solar Victoria].”
Alongside the $1,400 PV rebate value there is also the additional $1,400 for the interest free loan to pay for the rooftop system. Hot water rebates of $1,000 will continue to be delivered with 4,500 available in 2023-24.