Victoria’s boosted rooftop solar rebate snapped up in minutes

Victoria’s rooftop solar rebate has again been taken up in record time, with the boosted September offering of 6,500 discounted home solar panel systems disappearing within just one hour.

After a false start and a three-day delay due to technical difficulties, Solar Victoria posted a message to its social media channels at around 9.45am saying the first round of rebates for the month were fully subscribed, with the next offer of another 3250 opening in two weeks time on September 17.

The rapid uptake – one hour faster than the August allocation of rebates of almost half the size – shows public demand for discounted rooftop solar is still huge, and suggests there is a way to go before supply catches up with demand.

It also confirms that the state government’s “enhancement” of the scheme – after months of industry pressure – was much needed.

As we have reported, the Labor Andrews government last week yielded to a major industry push for changes to the troubled scheme, including a 50 per cent increase in the total number of rebates it will put up for offer this financial year, and increasing the total amount for September to just under 10,000.

Energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio also said the program would release two separate rebate allocations each month, to better meet demand for the discounted rooftop solar.

Other changes include the reservation of a number of rebates for written applications – in a concession to those consumers and retailers who choose not to engage online.

And retailers will be able to lodge final online quotes on the Solar Victoria portal at any time, in a change D’Ambrosio said would be implemented from Thursday – to reduce pressure on both Solar Victoria and and the online system when applications open each fortnight.

The latter adjustment was not enough to save the Solar Victoria portal on Monday, which promptly crashed under pressure of thousands of applications being lodged at once.

The re-boot on Thursday did, however, deliver – and in record time. And the promise of another few thousand more rebates opening to application in under two weeks may serve to ease the frustration of those who have missed out.

Whether this boosted allocation will give the industry any relief remains to be seen. As Warwick Johnston writes here, the “forward loading” comes “after many months on a starvation diet” for the state’s solar installers and retailers.

Johnston forecasts that it will take “all of September, October’s and November’s extra rebates to compensate for revenues lost during the May/June famine and the starvation diet of July/August.”

And he adds, “sadly, all of this will be too late for the businesses that have already starved to death.”

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