Thursday, June 05, 2008

Garrett guts solar rebate because it was too successful

It is World environment day on the 6 June.

I couldn’t believe my ears when I saw and heard Garrett on the ABC TV news and 7:30 report tonight say in parliament today that he had to bring in the 100K household means test on solar panels because it was too successful.

Yes, that’s right. Too many people were installing too many clean green renewable energy panels. So they brought in the 100k means test to snuff this out.

Garrett’s metamorphosis is complete. He is now just another politician. The best he can offer on World Environment day is a voluntary (read ineffective) energy labelling scheme for TVs. This is totally lame.

If you would like to send an email to Peter Garrett about this you can use this form the ACF has provided on their website.

Rudd can’t stop subsidising the Australian car industry that continues to build petrol guzzling V6 and V8s and throws more money at them to build hybrids. Why not redirect existing subsidies to this? Freiburg in Germany has shown what can be really done to reduce the reliance on cars.

How many more coal fired power stations will be built under the Rudd government, when we need to decommission 1 per year to meet emission reduction targets?

It didn’t take long for Labor’s “green spots” to fall off after the election.

Here is a copy of the email I sent to Garrett on the means test for the solar subsidy:


Dear Mr Garrett

I'm very disappointed that the Government has announced new restrictions on the solar panel rebate program - at a time when Australia should be ramping up its efforts to tackle climate change.

The new $100,000 per annum household means test is going to stop thousands of Australian families from going solar, and put a big dent in our growing solar industry.

I'm calling on you to be our solar champion - and increase the means test to $250,000 per annum - the same level as the household energy and water efficiency 'green loans' program.

I also know the biggest decision your Government will make this year will be setting Australia's 2020 target for reducing our greenhouse pollution.

The target will set the scene for Australia's overall effort on climate change - and for our shift to solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy. That's why, in addition to increasing the means test for the solar rebate, I also urge you to commit to a strong greenhouse pollution reduction target of at least 30% by 2020, and ensure a cleaner, safer future for Australia.

Solar panel rebates are not middle income welfare. Solar electricity production is one of the important measures we need to take to address climate change. The $100,000 means test effectively knocks the rebate out for the vast majority of people who would have installed panels and claimed it. I personally know of five people in this situation.

Please increase the means test to $250,000 per annum.

Regards, Peter Campbell



Anonymous said...

unbelievable. homeowners being able to afford solar panel installation is supposed to be getting easier not harder!

Chervil said...

I agree with you, the 100k limit on the rebate seems to be designed to ensure nobody claims the rebate. The panels are so expensive that a family with an income under 100k is unlikely to be able to afford them now (I know from experience...).

My inital reaction was exactly the same as yours. Why would they do this? How outrageous! But I have since had a few nagging thoughts that simply won't go away.

- Garret's comment that the program was "too successful" means it was underfunded and they are about to run out of money for this program. This is a budget miscalculation that was probably (I am guessing) inherited from the previous government. However, government has to think carefully what they do with tax payers' money, and just giving it away to individuals because it looks green is not good enough.

Unfortunately, solar voltaic continues to be spectacularly inefficient and maybe giving government hand-outs to pricey projects that actually don't deliver the biggest bang for our money is not the best way to go. Now, that is in part because the environmental damage of coal is not priced properly, but that will change if the emissions trading scheme achieves a carbon price which properly reflects the cost of climate change. But it is also a problem that the panels simply are still not efficient enough. Personally, I think the way to go is to ensure good feed-in tarrifs for solar panel owners which would reduce the pay-back period. This is a model that has worked well in Germany.

But what I would really like to see is BIG investment in large projects that would deliver huge benefits to everybody, not just a few individuals, such as geothermal and solar thermal plants.

On the other hand, I totally, totally agree with you on subsidies for the car and coal industries - they should go!

Peter Campbell said...

While solar votaic (PV) appears to be expensive, so is the $1b that the Rudd Government is giving to the coal industry for risky research and development.

And the Brumby government plans to spend $400m building yet another coal fired power station in Victoria.

Solar would not be regarded as so expensive if we could avoid these expenditures (saving $1.4b), both of which will not reduce emissions. The new power station will actually increase them!

I agree that investment should also be be made in large scale geothermal and solar thermal too.