Ron Young of Grafton is angry the NSW Government has reduced its energy payout price.
Ron Young of Grafton is angry the NSW Government has reduced its energy payout price.

Solar scheme stun

LOCAL solar power installers will join the wider industry at a protest in Sydney tomorrow over the suspension of the NSW Government's solar feed-in tariff scheme.

The industry is concerned the uncertainty now surrounding the price of renewable energy will lead to significant job losses.

Industry and consumer groups are also discussing “class actions suits” over the Government's reneging on its five-year contracts with the State's 120,000 photo-voltaic solar producers to pay 60 cents per kilowatt of energy produced. The new proposal, which has not yet passed through Parliament, offers them only 40 cents per kilowatt.

After reducing the price offered to new users from 60c/kW to 20c/kW last November, the NSW Government suspended the system indefinitely late last week.

A statement from Origin Energy said power generated from a system connected to the grid today would attract only 6 cents/kW.

Ron Young, of Grafton, installed 32 solar panels on his Queen Street home about a year ago at a cost of $30,000 on the basis that his contract was with the NSW Government.

He said he used about $2000 worth of electricity per year but his 6.5kilowatt system returned about $6000 per year,allowing the system to pay for itself in about five years. The proposed change mean that Mr Young's system will return only $4000 per year.

“It stinks. Can you believe anything the Government says?” he said.

“They say ‘go and get solar, we'll help you out', and then they turn around and say ‘bugger you jack'.

“If I sign a contract for five years I have to stick to it. It's wrong, it's a moral thing. I'm all for this class action. They have deceived us.

“There are so many of these systems installed by pensioners and retirees. They can't afford to lose money.”

Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, said yesterday he had received “a stack” of emails from people who were upset at the proposed changes.

“I understand that people would be upset that a contract signed is not a contract

honoured, but I also fear for the 3.2 million households (not signed up to the Solar Bonus Scheme) in NSW who may be paying for these schemes.”

Mr Cansdell said he needed to find out who was paying for the scheme and how much it was costing.

A spokesman for The Solar Shop, South Grafton, said local jobs were in jeopardy because of the Government's announcements.

“The Government's knee-jerk reaction , based on incorrect analysis, puts in doubt any incentive the Government provides to further invest in solar,” he said.

“Our customers are upset the Government can change a contract retrospectively. Many have borrowed to purchase a solar system and now find the financial repercussions a kick in the teeth from the Government.”

Solar facts

More than 120,000 installations in NSW in total.

210,600 kW installed in the past 12 months.

$1.26b invested in the past 12 months = $123m in GST revenue.

8190 jobs in NSW through 846 installers.

Industry is active in rural and regional areas.

As of mid 2010, 59% of installations were outside the Sydney metropolitan area.

Installation levels have already dropped 30% compared with their peak.

Maximum program cost will be $263m a year.

Impact on electricity prices was to be $41/year increase.

Greenhouse Gas Abatement from systems installed to end 2010 will offset 204,000 tonnes this year.

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