The Victorian government has unveiled a $1.24 billion scheme to half the price of installing solar panels in the state.
Under this scheme, the State Government will pay $4,550 towards the upfront cost of installing rooftop solar, with the other half paid for by a loan, repaid by the household over a four-year period.
The scheme is available from 19 August 2018 to owner-occupied properties valued at less than $3 million and with a combined income less than $180,000.
This means that the scheme is currently not open to landlords and renters.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that 650,000 homes would be installed over a 10-year period under this scheme, with expected savings up to $890 per year on household electricity bills.
“We were promised that privatisation would lead to lower prices, that simply hasn’t happened, every household can tell you that,” he told reporters.
“Now we have a plan for the future that’s practical, based on common sense that will happen.”
The government said that if it is re-elected in the upcoming November election, the scheme will be expanded to allow homeowners to repay the loan interest free from July next year. As for households that are currently in the process of installing solar, a $68 million fund was also announced to pay people half the cost through a grants scheme.
“We know families are doing it tough, the time for describing the problem is over, we have to take action.”
An independent agency called Solar Victoria will be set up to administer the scheme and ensure the safety of solar panel installations. It is predicted that this plan will bring the total number of Victorian households with solar to one million and add an additional 2,000 megawatts of power to the energy grid.
The scheme has been met with some criticism however, with opposition spokesman, David Southwick telling the media that it appears to be somewhat of a thought bubble reminiscent of the Rudd government’s ill-fated pink batts scheme.
“What we have today is an announcement where we are just going to splash cash without any real thought of how this will work back into the market, with no consumer protection in place,” he said.
The announcement from the Andrews government comes at a time of fierce energy debate from both state and federal governments. While Victoria currently has some of the cheapest electricity in Australia, rising prices has led to mounting speculation of reregulation in the energy retail market.