Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio after signing a wind turbine for the Ararat wind farm.

While the federal government goes into leadership meltdown over climate and energy policy the Victorian government over the weekend went the other way, launching a massive solar panel and hot water rebate ahead of the state election on 24 November.

The new Solar Homes program, worth $1.24 billion, means households will be able to install half price solar panels and pay back the remaining cost over four years with an interest-free loan.

For 650,000 eligible recipients, this scheme could save households as much as $890 a year on electricity bills and a further $2225 on the cost of installing residential solar systems.

The government claims this will cut Victoria’s carbon emissions by almost four million tonnes – the same as taking one million cars off the road – and generate 12.5 per cent of the state’s 40 per cent target for renewable energy by 2025.

The state government will also offer 60,000 households a $1000 rebate to install a new solar hot water system. The 10-year $60 million package is expected to save the average Victorian household between $160 and $400 a year off their electricity bills.

The solar hot water system rebate is pitched at home-owners who are missing out on the cost savings of home solar because their roofs aren’t suitable for solar or are shaded.

As well as individual households, not-for-profit community housing providers will also be eligible to apply for a rebate on behalf of their tenants.

The rebates are available immediately and will be administered by a new independent agency, Solar Victoria, which will work with industry, regulators and training organisations to deliver the program.

The announcement was welcomed by Dr Ariel Liebman, director of the Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute (MEMSI) and Monash Innovation Hub, who told The Fifth Estate that the scheme gives the less affluent members of society access to the cost-saving benefits of rooftop solar.

“At this stage, there is no downside to this scheme,” said Dr Liebman.

“Although I think I’d like to see government helping with the rental sector a bit more. But this is very challenging due to the split-incentive. It’s a very complex framework… I’m not exactly sure what this would be.”

Community-based organisation Solar Citizens also welcomed Victoria’s unwavering commitment to renewables.

“The only certain way to bring down your energy bill is by going solar,” said Solar Citizens national director Joseph Scales.

“Unfortunately, many people are locked out of enjoying the benefits of cheaper energy bills that solar provides because they can’t afford the upfront cost. The Andrews Government has today provided a simple but significant answer to that,” explained Mr Scales.

“While the Turnbull Government is actually making it harder for people to go solar, by cutting the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and disincentivising solar through the National Energy Guarantee, we are once again relying on leadership of states.”

The Commonwealth’s escalating energy policy crisis

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership is currently on shaky ground thanks to the federal government’s intensifying energy policy crisis.

On Monday Mr Turnbull announced that climate change targets would be removed from the NEG. Targets will now be put into a regulatory framework rather than bound into the NEG legislation.

The decision is designed to keep Liberal conservatives happy, who according to widesparead reports, have been encouraging Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton to challenge Mr Turnbull’s leadership over the NEG issues.

A slump in support for the PM in the Fairfax-Ipsos poll casts further doubt on the future of the Turnbull government. The Coalition primary vote has dropped from 39 per cent to 33 per cent.

The decoupling of climate change targets from NEG legislation “is precisely what is needed”, according to Australian National University professor Ken Baldwin, director of the Energy Change Institute and the deputy director of the Research School of Physics and Engineering.

“By setting the target in regulation rather than in legislation (and thereby running the risk of a hostile Senate), any future government can then ramp up the ambition of the electricity sector beyond 26 per cent; either to cover the inevitable shortfall in the more-difficult-to-achieve targets in other sectors, or in order to meet a more rapid decarbonisation trajectory if required by the world’s post-Paris progress,” professor Baldwin said.

“A separate regulatory ambition would also prevent the much-feared lock-in of coal-fired power generation on decadal timeframes.”

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  1. Rubbish Graeme Doreian.Read the conditions attached to the offer.and then make such an outlandish statement.
    Am I eligible?

    Victorian households are eligible to receive a rebate under the Solar Homes Package if the applicant:

    has a combined household Taxable Income of less than $180,000 per annum (based on the 2017-18 tax assessment notices for the home owners)
    is an owner-occupier of a home valued at under $3,000,000 (a copy of a recent Council rates notice will be required),
    does not already have a solar panel system installed on their property,
    chooses a Clean Energy Council (CEC) Approved Product (for solar panels) and uses a CEC Accredited Installer,
    chooses a product that is on the Clean Energy Regulator’s “Register of approved solar hot water heaters” (for Solar hot water)
    has had an eligible solar panel system installed on or after 19 August 2018, and
    engages an installer who can provide a statement that they have had no significant contravention history, or prosecutions registered with WorkSafe Victoria in the past three years.
    is an early adopter of Solar PV looking to replace or expand their system.*

    *Early adopters of solar PV, who meet all other eligibility criteria, are able to claim a rebate for a new or expanded system. An early adopter is defined as a solar system that was installed prior to the commencement of the Premium Feed-In Tariff (PFIT) on November 1, 2009. Your Distribution Network Service Provider can confirm that the date on which your solar PV system was connected to the grid was prior to the start of the PFIT. Other than for early adopters, the solar rebate cannot be used to expand an existing solar panel installation.

    Not-for-profit community housing providers will also be eligible to apply for a rebate on behalf of their tenants.

    For more information contact Solar Victoria on 1300 363 744 or register here for updates.

  2. The solar panel “free for all” should you qualify by the Victorian Andrews Labor Government has been aptly framed as Pink Batts 2.0.

    I believe this new disaster waiting to happen will be rushed through without protecting the installers or the public.

    Dodgy installers will run rampant, just like the Pink batts disaster when:
    I. a qualified electrical contractor employed untrained young people to install insulation
    II. even after making them aware of the dangers in a roof space, one of his people were killed.

    The relevance, make the hostile, confined roof space electrically safe for any person entering that space.

    This has been neglected for decades by all Governments.

    Victorian Labor Government tried in 2005, even giving pensioners a $50 incentive to have an electrical inspection of their roof spaces.

    As the 27million dollar 2014 Royal Commission Home Insulation Program exposed, besides non- compliant installed unprotected wiring over the tops of ceiling joists, other real issues:

    I. the electrical systems in roof spaces of all ages,
    II. more so the real older homes with old wiring that is not up to Standard creating potentially a “minefield”,
    III. the issue of non- policing by Governments, and electrical contractors not following the Wiring Rules, as the Master Electricians Association revealed under pressure on the stand, under oath, on the last day at the 2014 Royal Commission Home insulation Program.

    Andrews Government has attempted for a number of years, as did the previous Baillieu Liberal Government, after the failed Home Insulation Program to again resurrect almost giving away free insulation to be installed in peoples confined, hostile roof spaces, via the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Scheme(VEET).

    A decision on FREE insulation installation has been stalled for at least 4 years from memory, as public comment to the scheme found Energy Safe Victoria, an Andrews Government department, alerting the Government to have pre and post electrical inspections before installing insulation.

    Basically for any Government sanctioned scheme, such as the solar panel “free for all” WHICH CAN involve entering the hostile, confined roof space.

    Energy Safe Victoria Feb 3, 2017 advice below, and I quote
    ESV Response is of the view that the pre-installation assessment should be mandatory
    ESV Response believes that a post-installation assessment is essential

    Why should making roof spaces electrically safe, just apply to Government Schemes?

    Shouldn’t all roof spaces be made electrically safe for anyone to enter?

    Further, my question to the Electrical Regulatory Authority Council (ERAC) regarding making roof spaces safe to enter.

    (ERAC) support Energy Safe Victoria, going one step further.

    ERAC advice to me, as a result of my correspondence to ERAC July, 2018, and I quote

    “ It is possible that mandatory electrical inspections prior to installations of insulation may not be financially viable and therefore neglected in entirety, a situation that should be avoided at all costs. Alternative processes to ensure worker safety should be investigated, assessed and then implemented as necessary.

    In addition to installer safety it must be understood that post installation safety is as important. Homes that were prior installation considered safe may no longer be as a result of a poor installation of thermal insulation.”

    Money before lives, failed deregulation before lives, yet ERAC agree with ESV above.

    The real issue has been and still continues, non- policing by Governments, and electrical contractors not following the Wiring Rules.

    Victorian roof spaces have many electrical issues, as does the whole of Australia, non- compliant installed unprotected wiring over the tops of ceiling joists, amongst other issues, especially when entering hostile confined roof spaces

    What would you do?
    I. if your husband, son, relation, friend, or a “tradie,” just doing their job
    II. was killed in your hostile, confined, roof space
    III. because of an incorrect installation of existing wiring or solar panels?