Environment Victoria supporters will remember the major campaign spearheaded by this organisation and supported by community groups, environmental organisations, churches, social sector groups, businesses and unions to improve the solar feed-in tariff proposed by the then Brumby Government.
As a result of that campaign, the then Baillieu led Opposition worked with The Greens to ensure amendments were made to the legislation which would lead to a stronger, more robust scheme. Improvements led by the then Opposition included increasing the size of systems included in the scheme to 5kW, and making it available to community groups, churches, small businesses and farmers.
At the election the Coalition committed to hold an inquiry into a gross feed-in tariff for Victoria (i.e. a real feed in-tariff). They also committed that the Liberal-National Government would
‘Strongly support feed-in tariffs that provide a fair reward and encourage the supply of renewable and low emissions energy into the grid’.
The success of the feed-in tariff coupled with federal support for solar installations means that new installations have grown rapidly, and the cap on the feed-in tariff program of 100MW is likely to be reached in coming weeks, if it hasn’t already. Many of the new installations have been found to be in regional and rural Victoria, and in outer suburbs traditionally recognised as ‘battler’ suburbs – proving it’s not just inner-city-latte-sipping-greenies investing in our clean energy future, but people from across the state, and across socio-economic divides.
It’s great news that so many Victorians are investing in solar energy for their homes and businesses. But it’s concerning that the support that has made this possible could disappear, leaving another clean energy industry in limbo.
If the Baillieu Government is serious about supporting solar, supporting workers and supporting Victorians concerned about energy price rises they should extend the existing scheme with the current tariff until an inquiry into gross feed-in tariffs has been held and reported on.
That way, the government can keep their election commitment, and ensure a future for solar energy in Victoria. Thousands of workers in the industry, many more Victorians looking to invest in clean energy, and of course our environment are counting on it.