Victoria solar rebate still in hot demand, mid-September offer gone in 20 minutes

Demand for the Victorian government’s home solar rebate is showing no signs of slowing down, with a second-round September offer disappearning within just 20 minutes.

The state government opened a further 3,250 rooftop PV rebates to application on Tuesday September 17, as part of last month’s “enhancement” of the scheme.

The number – which actually started at 3,356, perhaps due to some applications falling through after the last round – was entirely exhausted in just over 15 minutes.

As we reported here, the Andrews Labor government’s Solar Homes policy was expanded in late August, in a bid to bring supply into step with demand for discounted rooftop solar panels.

The long-awaited changes – which included a tripling of the number of rebates on offer for the month of September, and a 50 per cent increase in the amount to be offered across the 2019-2020 financial year – followed a series of industry-led protests, amid claims the rebate had put an artificial cap on installations, and was bringing some businesses to their knees.

The changes made the scheme also included the reservation of a number of rebates for written applications – in a concession to those consumers and retailers who choose not, or who had struggled to, navigate the online system.

Indeed, troubles with the digital application process were highlighted at the time of the first September offering, when the rush to apply for one of 6,500 rebates put up for offer on Monday September 02 promptly crashed the site, taking it out of action for three days.

When the offer was relaunched on Thursday September 05, the 6,500 rebates were entirely taken up within half an hour.

This week’s new record uptake of less than 20 minutes has not gone unnoticed, with comments on Solar Victoria’s Facebook page suggesting people are still missing out – and/or having trouble with the application process.

Among the 30-odd complaints posted on the FB page at the time of publication, one installer said he had customers ready to go on computers “from 11:55am all the way through the entire 15 odd minutes, and not an allocation!”

Another complaint, this time on Twitter, asked: “Don’t you think there is a problem if it only takes 15 minutes to be fully subscribed? I had to try more than 40 times because the system continued to fail and take be back to the same question. 5th time lucky?”

How the broader industry is feeling about the situation remains to be seen. The government’s August changes to the scheme were welcomed at the time by both the Clean Energy Council and the Smart Energy Council.

But both organisations are no doubt watching and listening closely to see whether a boost in rebate numbers will be enough to return the industry to the pre-rebate status quo.

The next allocation comes on October 01 – a Tuesday – when another 3,250 will be opened for application, followed by another 3,250 mid-way through the month.

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