04/06/2008 - 22:00

Solar sector state push

04/06/2008 - 22:00

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The solar industry is pushing the state government to introduce feed-in tariffs to encourage the installation of solar panels, after the federal government's decision to means test the solar PV rebate program.

The solar industry is pushing the state government to introduce feed-in tariffs to encourage the installation of solar panels, after the federal government's decision to means test the solar PV rebate program.

The industry has expressed its concern to the federal government over its decision to means test the $8,000 rebate for households earning over $100,000.

The industry is concerned the decision will slash business, investment and jobs.

Belmont-based Solar Sales chief executive Bob Blakiston said the changes had already brought about inventory problems, with the wholesaler having significantly increased stock and employed and training extra staff in anticipation of the growing demand.

"I've cancelled an entire quarter's allocation, the warehouse is full and stock's not being drawn," he said.

In 2007, the Howard government increased the solar PV rebate from $4,000 to $8,000, which led to a flurry of applications and an almost trebling in panel sales.

Mr Blakiston said the government's move to slow the allocation of funds after such a rapid increase was understandable, but the decision to means test the segment of the market which made up about two-thirds of sales had "gone too far".

He said a gross feed-in tariff, where generators were paid for the total amount of energy they produced, not just what was fed back into the grid, would result in about a 10-year payback.

Currently, South Australia and Queensland have a net metering system, where consumers are paid for the amount of electricity that is not used and fed back into the grid.

Victoria is looking to introduce a net metering system, with the Australian Capital Territory looking at a gross feed-in tariff.

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