Few people Kean on free solar panel offer


Another one of Energy Minister Matt Kean's green projects - free rooftop solar panels for pensioners - has only had 224 homes sign up for it, despite his promise the scheme would add eight megawatts of renewable capacity to help build a "reliable electricity grid" for the state.

The paltry take-up was revealed by the NSW State Opposition, who want the State Government to mandate Australian-made solar panels in a bid to boost local manufacturing.

The $15 million Solar for Low Income Households program - to install a $4000, 3 kilowatt solar system for pensioners and poor families who own their own home, was expected to fit out 3000 homes by June 2o22.

Launched last October, just 224 homes had agreed to take part in the scheme by August 6, parliamentary questions by the NSW ALP show.

When he announced the plan, Mr Kean stated: "In addition to potential bill savings, the addition of up to 3000 more rooftop solar systems will add more than 8 megawatts of renewable capacity to help support a clean, affordable and reliable electricity grid."

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean. Photograph: Dean Lewins.
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean. Photograph: Dean Lewins.

NSW Opposition energy spokesman Adam Searle said the government had not done enough to promote the scheme.

He said the parliamentary questions revealed "no major components (inverter and panels) of the solar systems installed are made in Australia".

"If public money is being used, then the government should to the maximum extent possible encourage manufacturing and labour is sourced in NSW," he said.

The Opposition plans to introduce legislation calling for a NSW first procurement policy for government projects, in a bid to boost our manufacturing industry.

Earlier this week One Nation MP Mark Latham revealed the poor take-up rate of another one of Mr Kean's green schemes, a solar system with a battery, or a retrofitted battery, with only 150 out of 3000 taking up that offer.

"Another Matt Kean green scheme that remains a dream," Mr Latham said.

One Nation MP Mark Latham questions the value of renewable schemes. Picture: Richard Dobson
One Nation MP Mark Latham questions the value of renewable schemes. Picture: Richard Dobson

Under the pensioner solar scheme, providers such as Origin Energy are responsible for installing the solar panels.

ALP Energy spokesman Adam Searle
ALP Energy spokesman Adam Searle

Most solar panels are made overseas, with 70 per cent from China, and the only Australian made manufacturer is based in Adelaide.

The scheme is still being trialled on the Central Coast, the north and south coast, Sydney's south, and the Illawarra and the Shoalhaven.

Low income families would save $300 a year, but have to give up their $285 Low Income Household Rebate for the next decade and were warned they might have to pay for a new smart meter.

They were also warned they might have to request hardship assistance if, down the track, a new neighbouring building casts shadows over their roof.

Mr Kean did not respond before deadline.

Originally published as Few people Kean on free solar panel offer



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