Solar shocker

AS the two-month-old O'Farrell Government reels from internal division over its proposal to retrospectively cut the solar energy feed-in tariff from 60 cents to 40 cents a kilowatt, minor parties in the upper house have reportedly vowed to block the move.

Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell said he had copped a barrage of some 200 emails objecting to the tariff cut and that he, like all the State Government backbenchers, had not been informed about the proposal which was “disturbing”.

He said he understood people's frustration and that he would represent them at the party room next week.

Though he agreed that contracts had indeed been broken, Mr Cansdell stopped short of committing to “cross the floor” on the issue at this stage, saying he would wait to see where funds could be saved elsewhere in the state budget.

“If they can't come back with an acceptable reason of why (the tariff has to be cut) I would (cross the floor) ... I think all of us would,” he said.

Mr Cansdell quoted his leader's words when he said the average electricity bill would rise by $170 per year if the feed-in tariff remained at 60 cents/kW.

But this figure was refuted by chief executive of the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) John Grimes, who said the premier's figures were based on faulty modelling.

The real cost, Mr Grimes said, would be closer to $24 per year.

But the more important issue, he said, was the principle that the Government would go back in time and rip up agreements made with the NSW people who had effectively funded a 300 megawatt renewable energy plant.

“It's outrageous, every NSW resident should be concerned.”

Local impact

SOUTH Grafton retailer Annie Dodd had this great idea inspired by the O'Farrell Government's solar backflip.

How about the NSW Government retrospectively cuts the pensions of all former politicians by about a third and abolish the pension scheme altogether for current ones?

It'd be worth millions to the state budget.

Ms Dodd's satirical suggestion masked her rage at the situation which would effectively cost her thousands of dollars each year due to lost revenue from her 10kW solar power system.

In a scathing letter in today's opinion page, chairman of Clarence Village Limited Geoff Shepherd outlines how the village's 73 elderly residents would be disadvantaged by the proposal.

He said Mr Cansdell was “uninspiring” when he spoke to him about the issue on Monday.

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