Victoria rooftop solar rebate on hold again, with July quota filled in three days

Victorian households waiting patiently to install half-price solar through the state government’s Solar Homes scheme might have to wait another few weeks, after the July quota of 3,300 applications for the rebate was filled within days.

As we reported on Monday, the first full year of the state government’s $1.3 billion Solar Homes scheme was launched on July 1 to pent-up demand, after a short – but painful for the state’s rooftop PV installers and retailers – pause in the program.

Solar Victoria – which runs the rebate on behalf of the state government – put a hold on applications for the up $2,225 discount on solar panels after if was tapped by more than 32,000 households in the first six months, well exceeding allotted quotas three months early.

In an effort to prevent this sort of “solar coaster” effect from happening again, a staggered approach offering applications for 3,333 rooftop solar systems per month is being used in 2019/20.

In an interview with One Step on Monday, acting Solar Victoria CEO Jonathan Leake said there was expected to be some “pent-up demand” for the rooftop part of the scheme, after the pause leading up to July.

This theory was born out by the digital counters on Solar Victoria’s website, showing only two-thirds of the rooftop solar rebates remaining by the afternoon of July 1.

Come Thursday, however, the counter on the “solar panels rebate” page has disappeared entirely, replaced with this note:

“There’s been a huge response to the July release and rebates for solar panels are now full. The next release will be available from 1 August.”

While annoying for some customers, no doubt, the wait is a short one, and is an intended effect of the staggered approach that Solar Victoria has decided to take, in close consultation with industry.

Meanwhile, households that already have rooftop solar – although not those that have already accessed a Solar Homes rebate – can get busy applying for a discounted home battery.

The battery rebate offers discounts of up to $4,838 to households with existing solar systems, with a staggered roll-out to a total of 1000 homes – 200 from 1 July, 400 from 1 November and 400 from 1 March 2020.

The battery subsidy is also limited to households in a select number of postcodes throughout the state, listed on the Solar Victoria website.

So far, the battery offering has not been as whole-heartedly embraced by Victorian households as the rooftop solar rebate – with 175 of the allotted 200 rebates still available for application between now and October 31.

As Giles Parkinson noted in last month’s Solar Insiders Podcast, residential battery storage uptake remains slow and steady in Australia, even in states like South Australia where rooftop solar uptake is high and storage incentives have been in place for some years.

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