29/05/2008 - 14:59

Solar companies worried over rebate

29/05/2008 - 14:59

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A delegation of leading Australian solar companies, including Welshpool based Solco Ltd, have taken their concerns about the Rudd Government's means test on the Solar PV (photovoltaic) Rebate Program directly to Environment Minister Peter Garrett, Shadow

A delegation of leading Australian solar companies, including Welshpool based Solco Ltd, have taken their concerns about the Rudd Government's means test on the Solar PV (photovoltaic) Rebate Program directly to Environment Minister Peter Garrett, Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Senator Christine Milne and a number of other MPs in Canberra.

The delegation will highlight the immediate impact the means test has had in slashing business, investment and jobs and provide recommendations to government on transition arrangements to prevent current industry turmoil continuing.

"We have travelled together to Canberra to tell the Minister and other MPs directly that the Solar PV industry is seeking a transition strategy to ensure damage is minimised to the sector and the Federal Government's future climate change strategy is not jeopardised," Rodger Meads, Conergy's Managing Director, said.

The group includes senior representatives from Conergy, Green Energy Trading, Solartec Sales and Solco Ltd and is supported by a number of other large and small manufacturers, distributors and installers across Australia.

"Following the Government's solar means test announcement, Australian working families have now cancelled up to 80% of their solar system orders- this is a real and immediate threat to our industry.

"This means test has decimated our industry- it does not encourage the uptake of solar PV, increase investment or support industry development," Mr Meads said.

Alex Lamond, CEO of publicly-listed Solco Ltd, agreed saying, "In Victoria alone we have seen over $1.5 million worth of business put on hold overnight, by home-owners who are often just a few thousand dollars over the new means test limit," he said.

"This budget decision comes at a time of increased community concern and mounting evidence that the climate change problem is worse than expected- there is no consideration of means testing the recipients of other Government climate change programs, so why solar?" Ric Brazzale from Green Energy Trading said.

"To meet the challenging emissions reductions which are required to avoid dangerous climate change, increasing amounts of solar PV power will need to be deployed on a large-scale.

"The most cost-effective way to do this is to drive down the cost of solar PV power now, before a large-scale roll-out of solar PV becomes essential to contribute to the increasing abatement task," he said.

"Solar PV Programs have been successful at driving cost reductions to date, over the last eight years the real price of grid-connected PV has dropped by more than 32%," Mr Brazzale said.

"The Government has removed support for installing solar power from the very households who, with support, are the most likely to be willing and able to invest in it.

"Training institutes around the country have also invested in new facilities and teachers to train new installers; Skills Tech in Brisbane has 500 going through and all of the Victorian TAFEs have full courses and waiting lists.

"The industry has shown that home owners with household incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 represent around 80% of the PV grid-connect market in Australia. Unless something is done about the $100,000 taxable income per household threshold, many will leave the industry, skills will be lost, and workers and teachers laid off," Mr Brazzale said.

The delegation held meetings with Environment Minister Garrett, Shadow Environment Minister Hunt, Senator Kim Carr's adviser, Senator Christine Milne and Kelvin Thomson MP.

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