Victoria rooftop solar rebate set to be capped, as 30,000-plus households pile in

The Victorian government’s rooftop solar subsidy will remain open to just 2,000 more applications in the remaining months to July, after the “immense success” of the statewide program has seen the PV rebates almost fully subscribed for the 2018-19 financial year.

State energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Tuesday that more than 30,000 Victorian households had “embraced” the Andrews Labor government’s Solar Homes program, to cut their power bills and bolster supply to the grid.

“This week the 10,000th rebate will be paid – taking savings for Victorian households to more than $21 million since the program opened last August,” D’Ambrosio said.
This is up from January figures of nearly 7,000 rooftop PV systems installed under the $1.3 billion scheme since its launch in late August 2018, when around 1,600 households had received a rebate.

A spokesperson from the department of energy told One Step the program had easily exceeded government’s expectations – provisions were made for 24,000 rebates to cover the period from when the scheme was announced to when it officially opens in July this year, to make sure the industry didn’t come to a complete halt in the meantime.

They ended up with 30,000 applications, with more than two months to spare.

“The Solar Homes program has been hugely successful, and plans are well underway for the next phase of the program, which will be bigger and better than ever,” D’Ambrosio said.
“For people who are still considering installing solar, now is the time to do your research. Talk to a participating solar retailer who can help you choose a system which is right for you, so you’re ready to go on 1 July.” The solar hot water rebate will remain open.

The minister also said that caps on the number of solar PV, hot water and battery rebates provided under the program would be set each year, “to boost safety and ensure an orderly rollout of the program.”
As we have reported, the immense success of the rooftop solar rebate in Victoria has not been without its drawbacks, including an influx of disreputable “cowboy” operators in the local retail market, and problems for network operators in accommodating a boom in behind-the-meter solar generators.

Solar Victoria, the body set up by the state government to oversee the delivery of the Solar Homes scheme, has rolled out a number of measures to deal with these and other problems, including restricting the scheme to Clean Energy Council accredited solar retailers, and mandating that only “smart inverter” technology is used in solar systems installed under the rebate.

As for the problems with grid operators connecting all these new solar systems, they are still being ironed out – although today’s announcement of caps to the solar rebate over coming years is no doubt a small concession to that effort.

Nevertheless, the Andrews government’s plan remains to deliver a total of 650,000 new rooftop solar systems on Victorian homes through the scheme.

D’Ambrosio said the official 10 year roll-out of Solar Homes starts would begin on 1 July – “bigger and better than ever” and offering even more rebates for solar panels or solar hot water.
“This will also mark the start of our no-interest loans offer, which will allow households to install solar with no upfront costs, as well as solar panels for 50,000 rental properties and 10,000 solar batteries,” she said.

A spokesperson for D’Ambrosio said the energy department was still working through the details of what the cap on rebate application numbers would be for the 2019-2020 year and beyond, but that it was safe to say there would definitely be more.

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