Blog | 23rd Oct, 2018

Should Victorians install solar now, or wait until after the election? Three things to consider.

The Andrews Labor Government’s solar homes announcement means solar power and lower bills are within reach for thousands more Victorians. The rebate is available now, but the interest free loans would only be available from July next year, pending the outcome of the state election.

So should you wait or install now? There’s a lot to consider and we’ve got answers to three key questions.

The background

(Click here to skip to the Q and A)

In August the Andrews Labor Government announced a massive plan to support 650,000 homes install solar by providing up to $2225 towards the cost of installation (roughly half the cost of a 4 kW system at the time of the announcement.)

They also announced they will provide interest-free loans from July 1 2019 to cover the outstanding cost.

That means if the ALP is re-elected, from July next year eligible households could install solar panels without paying a cent up front.

It’s a stunning plan that will make solar accessible for all home owners and will significantly increase Victoria’s solar uptake- currently 16% of Victorian households have solar PV (a long way behind Queensland and South Australia). Hopefully as the election nears we’ll see further announcements for renters and to support families to make their homes more energy efficient.

There’s lot of great information on eligibility and how to apply on the official Solar Homes website here. But what it doesn’t tell you is whether you should install solar now or wait till after the election and get an interest free loan.

Assuming you are eligible (a household income below $180k/year and home worth less than $3 million are the key tests) here’s three issues to consider whether you should install solar now or take your chances post-election. 

Do I need finance to install solar?

Since Solar Homes was announced solar installers are advertising the lowest prices for solar installations I’ve ever seen. A quick glance at today’s Herald Sun finds companies advertising a 6.5 kw system for just $1999 after the $2225 rebate.

Of course you’ll need to ensure any deal offers high quality panels, equipment and installation, but if you can afford to contribute around $2000 now towards your solar system you’ll be able to get a 5 to 6 kw system that will slash your electricity bills and that is not dependent on the outcome of the election.

Will the Federal solar rebate be cut or eliminated?

One of the reasons for low prices of solar is that there is still a Federal government rebate under the national Renewable Energy Target. For a 5 kW system installed today in Melbourne the federal subsidy under the Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme is worth $2600- this subsidy has usually already been applied in advertised solar installation costs.

The Federal subsidy reduces each year- on January 1 2019 the subsidy for a 5 kW system in Melbourne will reduce by $170. Again this makes the case for installing solar now, in 2018 and ahead of the state election on November 24, very compelling.

Of course there’s also the growing political risk that the Federal Government will cut the rebate further, and there has been a recent push on by Coalition backbenchers (yes, Tony Abbott again), the ACCC and some media outlets to scrap the federal solar subsidy altogether.

Will the Victorian Liberals scrap Solar Homes if elected?

The short answer is they haven’t said, but based on their comments to date it is highly likely that they would scrap the scheme.

The Liberals have been highly critical and dismissive of solar homes. Here’s what Shadow Energy Minister David Southwick said when the program was announced:

Daniel Andrews’ solar panel election promise sounds a lot like Kevin Rudd’s pink batts disaster. This is ‘Pink Batts mark 2’ – it failed the first time and it is at risk of failing again.”[1]

Does that sound like a Party that is going to keep the solar rebate? They haven’t been any more positive since. You’ll need to make your own assessment, but based on these comments it’s highly likely that the Victorian Liberals will scrap the program if they were elected on November 24.

Again this suggests that now is the best time to to install solar if you’re in a position to do so without finance. But what about the other 600,000 households that Solar Homes would help to cut their energy bills over the next decade? They could well miss out unless Matthew Guy’s Liberal Party changes their position on solar homes.

With just over 1 month until polling day it’s a great time to ask any Coalition MP’s or candidates you come across on the campaign trail, would a Coalition Government scrap solar homes or not?