Nearly 340,000 households and businesses have installed rooftop solar in Victoria and thousands more have improved the efficiency of their homes in response to rising energy prices and climate change. These households have not only reduced their reliance on fossil-fuel generated power from the grid, but are benefiting from lower bills and more comfortable homes in summer and winter.
But many more low-income and disadvantaged households are locked out of the benefits of efficiency and clean energy by unaffordable upfront costs and other barriers. Allowing a significant proportion of our community to miss out on the benefits of clean energy threatens the social cohesion and sense of community Victoria prides itself on.
Actively managing the energy transition to ensure it is just and the benefits and costs are shared fairly could deliver large-scale economic, social and environmental benefits to Victoria. Allowing the transition to happen in a chaotic and disorderly way risks further worsening energy affordability problems and entrenching disadvantage.
The Victorian government has recognised the critical importance of clean energy by committing to install solar power on 650,000 Victorian homes in the next ten years. This ambitious Solar Homes package is a very welcome acknowledgement of the need for large-scale action to improve the environmental performance of our homes.
The Solar Homes program builds on a suite of initiatives including the Victorian Energy Upgrades Program, Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard, Solar Savers program and the Home Energy Assist package of retrofit programs for low-income and disadvantaged households. Raising the solar feed-in tariff has also made the decision to invest in solar more financially viable for thousands of Victorian households.
The challenge now is to ensure that the significant scale-up of activity represented by the Solar Homes package delivers the greatest possible energy affordability, job creation, social justice and emissions reduction benefits for Victoria.
This report maps out how big, transformative goals can be achieved if government acts not only as a funder, but as a leader, partner and enabler. The impact of investment in efficiency and clean energy will be maximised if government takes action to: