Victoria solar rebate on hold another day, as tech troubles continue

Victoria’s troubled rooftop solar rebate program remained on hold on Tuesday, as technical difficulties with the online application portal continued to delay the launch of an expanded September offering.

The newly enhanced state government scheme was scheduled to re-open to applications on Monday at 9am, offering 6,500 Victorian households a discount of up to $2,225 on solar panels – almost double the amount of August or July.

But technical difficulties with the online application program soon became apparent, and the portal was taken offline not long after being opened for business on Monday morning.

Solar Victoria said at the time that customers had experienced difficulty selecting their chosen solar retailer and retrieving their installation quote.

An updated notice posted on on the Solar Victoria site on Tuesday morning said the portal would remain offline for the entire day to “implement solutions.”

“Please rest assured we will give plenty of notice to industry and customers before the portal reopens to allow people time to prepare,” the notice said.

The boosted September 02 offering – almost double the 3,333 allotted for the months of July and August – was announced by energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio last week, in a long-awaited response to industry pushback against the design of the scheme.

Industry claimed that the small number of rebates offered up each month – and in August, the month’s allocation of rebates was taken up completely within just two hours – had effectively put a cap on the market, and forced some businesses into liquidation.

Two separate public protests were held against the scheme, to demonstrate the urgent need for changes to the number of rebates made available each month, and to the application process itself.

As part of a raft of changes, D’Ambrosio said an additional 23,000 rebates would be opened up to application across the financial year, and that Solar Victoria would release two separate rebate allocations each month, to better meet demand for discounted rooftop solar.

For September, as well as the 6,500 applications on offer for the first half of the month, another 3250 rebates are to be offered in two weeks time, taking the total to 9750 rebates across the month.

All up, the increased allocation of rebates boosts the total number being offered across the 2019 financial year to a total of more than 60,000, an increase of more than 50 per cent.

But the relief expressed by industry in repose to these changes last week has been short lived, with customers and solar retailers taking to social media to vent their frustration at the latest bump in the road.

Comments ranged from “what a total shambles and embarrassment,” to calls for patience, and then back again to requests for compensation for work hours lost waiting for the site to come back online.

“Have you tried turning it off and back on?” said another comment.

As we noted on Monday, once the problem has been sorted by Solar Victoria’s tech team, all eyes will be on the rebate counter, to see how quickly the first lot of 6,500 rebates is taken up.

We’ll keep you posted.

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