‘Overly generous’ or incredibly stingy? Barnett’s backflip on solar subsidies

29th May 2009 - Colin Barnett’s announcement that he may back away from a key election promise – the Gross Feed-in Tariff benefiting users of rooftop solar cells – is a slap in the face for Western Australians who are investing in the future of energy generation, Greens (WA) MLC Robin Chapple said today.

The Greens (WA) with Liberal and Labor support successfully amended the Feed-in Tariff legislation in 2008 to ensure solar-equipped households, which can feed unused solar energy into the electricity grid, were rewarded on the basis of units of solar energy produced.

“During the election Mr. Barnett made a promise to the homeowners of Western Australia to reward investment in green energy” Mr. Chapple said, “Now it appears he is intent on discouraging homeowners to invest by calling the scheme “overly generous” and proposing a net, rather than gross tariff.

“This would sharply reduce the potential rewards of energy household solar energy and that’s a slap in the face to the thousands of Western Australians who have or are keen to invest in renewables.”

Mr. Chapple said that the $13.3 million in funding for the scheme is ‘a drop in the ocean’ next to the long-term savings in energy infrastructure costs especially in regional WA. “Mr. Barnett’s position is one that will dearly cost regional householders who might be considering contributing to local electricity grids, and would face far less return on their investment under a net tariff scheme,” Mr. Chapple said.

“While the Government dithers on promoting household solar energy, regional and urban energy will continue to be sourced –at ever-increasing cost- from dirty energy.” Mr. Chapple further said that the contribution of household solar energy to the Perth grid would help maintain a sufficient supply of power during peak demand in summer.

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