May 17th 2008
Budget's solar subsidy slash "not smart"
"Restricting the subsidy to households that earn less than $100,000 is taking away the incentive from those households that are best placed to afford to install panels in the first place," was how TCC's Cr Vern Veitch described the Federal government budget's axing which rules out households whose combined income is over $100,000 for subsidised domestic solar panels.
Cr Vern Veitch, Townsville City Council's Environment and Sustainable Development Committee chair, said the tighter rules would discourage householders from installing solar panels and getting behind the city's $30 million Solar City project.
"This is not smart policy. The average family income is $150,000 and stopping families with over $100,000 combined income from being eligible for subsidies is cutting out households most likely to install solar panels.
"The changes now make it uneconomical for them to invest in renewable energy.
"Instead of receiving an $8000 subsidy on around a $16,000 outlay to install a system, they will have to foot the full cost.
"The solar panels, with a subsidy, can pay for themselves in around six to eight years. Without the subsidy it will more than double.
"This is a real blow to the work the Council has been doing to build on Townsville's Solar City project.
"We want to raise awareness of solar energy and encourage more households to install panels and feed power back into the grid, but the Budget decision has put this initiative on hold.
"To compliment our Citisolar education program, we have been working on establishing a community program to reduce the costs of solar panel systems even further through bulk purchases.
"That meant we could have brought the out-of-pocket cost down to around $6000 for the average household.
"But to proceed with a bulk buy program we need a large number of households to sign up. That is now up in the air after the Government's decision to tighten the subsidy rules."
Magnetic Times is presently seeking a response to the Councillor's comments from the Department of Climate Change.
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