Canberra residents will be given a new opportunity to invest in solar power on a community levels with the introduction of a special community feed-in tariff (FiT), the latest in a raft of solar growth incentives introduced by the ACT government.
Simon Corbell, the Australian Capital Territory’s environment minister, said the new solar FiT would be up to 20 cents per kilowatt hour for 20 years, slightly higher than the price achieved by successful proponents in the government’s successful large-scale Solar Auction in 2012-13.
“This rate will help community groups develop innovative community outcomes,”Corbell said, opening the door for those Canberrans unable to take part in previous subsidy programs.
“Around one in 10 Canberra households already have roof-top solar, however this new initiative will be accessible to renters and people living in flats and apartments who previously missed out on the benefits of solar,” Corbell said in a statement announcing the new incentive, on Friday.
He said it would allow Canberra communities to pool their resources to develop large-scale solar installations, with a guaranteed income stream.
The community solar feed-in tariff will be established as a capacity release under the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act 2011, and will be capped at 1MW – the equivalent to around 500 typical roof-top installations.
“Ensuring community groups can access a modest but secure income stream will help them partner up with experienced developers to access project finance.
The announcement today follows the release of the Solar Auction Review report on Thursday this week, and the introduction of new legislation to raise the renewable energy cap from 210MW to 550MW to provide for large-scale renewable energy investments that will support the achievement of the ACT’s 90 per cent renewable electricity target by 2020.
Also on Friday, Corbell released a statement reiterating that the ACT’s greenhouse gas reduction targets would, on average, be cost neutral to Canberra households, with energy efficiency savings offseting the cost of large-scale investments.
“The cost of achieving the ACT’s 90 per cent renewable energy target is estimated to peak at around $4 per household per week, with the bulk of costs expected to arise during the period 2016 to 2019,” Corbell said.
But Corbell stressed the ACT’s Climate Change Strategy prioritised energy efficiency to reduce emissions and costs to households and businesses.
“It is through these energy efficiency measures that consumers can expect to save money, in many cases covering the minimal $4 increase – or in some cases exceeding it,” he said.
The Capital’s Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS) is currently in its second year of operation and is expected to achieve its targets. The most recent data indicates that, at the end of 2013, 18,064 households had participated in it, including 5,255 priority households (pensioners and low income earners).