Lack of Political Will

Once again I find myself writing to the Energy & Resource, the Hon. Peter Batchelor MP about the Premium Solar feed-in tariff bill that he has tabled before state parliament.

Remember that I wrote that this bill had some sensibility to it.  Well, that was before I read the fine print and I am sorry if I misled any of my readers.  Most of the proposed bill compares well with what the other states in Australia have legislated regarding feed-in tariffs, however there is one huge clusterfuck of a clause which is the credit vs. cash clause.  In the bill drafters wisdom, they have chosen to give credits on the system owners bill that are can be rolled over each quarter for a period of 12 months.  If at the end of a year there are remaining credits, they get cancelled and you start again!  What a crock. At least the law in South Australia, Queensland and the ACT says that retailers have to pay the owner in cash and not as credits.  I am disappointed to say the least.

This is what the ATA have to say about it;

The Victorian Government’s proposed feed-in tariff will cancel out thousands of dollars owed to solar homes for the clean electricity they generate and feed into the power grid, says the Alternative Technology Association (ATA).

Under the scheme, solar homes selling electricity back to the grid will see none of the 60cents per kilowatt hour owed to them, and instead the payment will be in the form of a credit on their electricity bill that will be cancelled out every 12 months.

The government’s decision to cancel any remaining credit at the end of each year, will make solar homes either forgo their credits or deliberately increase their energy use, says Damien Moyse, ATA’s Energy Policy Manager.

“For a modestly energy efficient household with a 3kW solar system, this scheme could result in $1000 or more loss."

“A use it or lose it scheme encourages homes to consume more energy, and is in complete contradiction to the need for Australia to decrease energy consumption and reduce emissions.”

Mr Moyse says the government also plans to exclude solar systems larger than 3.2kW from receiving the tariff.

“Community buildings, churches, farms and schools that need to install larger systems to cover their energy needs will not receive a fair payment for the clean energy they contribute to Victoria’s power supply.”

ATA is calling for the state government to bring Victoria’s scheme in line with other states and include all PV systems up to 10kW.

Mr Moyse says the government has completely missed the point of a feed-in tariff.

“The key reason for having a feed-in tariff is to drive rapid, large scale uptake of solar systems and bring down the costs of installing solar, as electricity from dirty sources gets more expensive.”

“Under the state government’s proposal there will be little to no change in the current uptake of solar installations, and once again consumers and the solar industry will lose out.”

So here is my letter to the Minister.

Dear Mr Batchelor,

Thank you for sending me up to date information about the Premium Solar Feed-in Tariff bill that is currently progressing through Parliament.

Whilst I agree with most parts of the proposed legislation, including the 15 year term, I do, however, strongly disagree with the credit vs. cash proposal whereby payment will be in the form of a credit on solar PV system owners electricity bill that will be cancelled out every 12 months. 

I disagree and hope you will reconsider, for the following reasons;

    For a modestly energy efficient household like my own with a 2.8 kW solar PV system, this scheme could result in $1000 or more loss on my environmental investment per year.   I believe that most residential owners of solar PV system will be up against a similar loss.  As you rightly stated in Parliament, most people have been motivated by ‘doing the right thing by the planet’ to date, however there are millions of Victorian who are motivated by money, and a regular cash cheque from energy retailers as payment for electricity fed back into the grid would dramatically increase the up take of solar renewable energy in this great state of ours.  A greater uptake of renewable energy would also assisting in stabilising the local energy grid during the extreme summer temperatures that we have experience in the last two years. As scientists are predicting, durations of extreme temperatures will become the norm in our summers, as will massive electricity demand on the national grid during these heat waves.  By encouraging the rapid uptake of a renewable, and therefore a semi-distributed electricity grid, you would be instrumental in averting the frequent backlash from voters while at the same time avoiding energy shedding and the constant power failures.  You could become the electricity infrastructure hero of the year or the man of the hour who ensured a stable power grid!

    Secondly, this use it or lose it scheme encourages homes to consume more energy, and is in complete contradiction to the need for Australia to decrease energy consumption and reduce emissions.  I thought that the state government of Victoria was all for fighting the effects of climate change, not against it.  Why would you propose a scheme that encourages this behaviour in the good citizens of Victoria?  A cash payment would discourage this behaviour, especially if the credits are due for expiry in the summer months, whereby placing increased stress during a peak energy use season on an already struggling power grid.

    I hope you have the time and inclination to read my reply, because I consider that my email is not just from me alone, but from many thousands of existing and potential solar PV owners in our state. 



Enough said on the subject.  I just hope that they change this ridiculous part of the legislation.  The bill is now up for its third reading.  Maybe a bit more pressure might just help clear his head.  Or not.

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  1. says

    What a cockeyed way to do things – I agree with you Gav, they are encouraging people to use more electricity not less with this proposal – I hope that you get a sensible reply and outcome to this. Keep us posted.


  2. says

    Hi Gavin,
    You’ve motivated us to write a similar letter to the “Minister For Energy from Coal” whose aim in office is to pay lip service to climate change. Just emailed it. Hope you don’t mind but we borrowed a few of your ideas and then added some of our own. It took a lot of control but we bit our tongues and kept a polite manner. Hopefully these guys will show some leadership at some stage, instead of having to be dragged along by thinking people in the electorate.
    Andrew and Heather

  3. says

    @ Babs. I hope they come to their senses too, but this Minister is not know for his environmental thinking!

    @ Andrew & Heather. Well done. I was so angry when I wrote my letter, but I held back and hopefully constructed a viable and compelling argument.


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