The Australian Greens have revealed the final plank of their renewable energy policy, with the launch of a solar support package for homes, schools and businesses, and a suite of measures to reform the electricity market and the rules that govern it.
The plan, released on Monday, features a $192 million Sustainable Schools Program, which – based on a Tasmanian program run by former Greens schools minister Senator Nick McKim – would allow schools across Australia to invest in solar panels, energy efficiency measures and retrofits.
The policy also includes a $5 million information campaign that would promote existing Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s schemes that help homes and businesses invest in solar, storage and other clean technologies with no upfront costs.
Such a scheme was launched just last month in conjunction with Westpac, to help Australian businesses invest in solar, battery storage, energy efficient technologies and electric vehicles.The new Greens plan would also focus on reforming energy market regulations to improve access to solar for residential and commercial tenants and to maximise the value of that solar.
“This suite of measures is aimed at breaking down all the barriers that prevent businesses and households from installing clean energy and using it as efficiently as possible,” the policy statement reads.
“We want to help consumers take power away from big energy companies and democratise our energy system.”
This scheme this, the Green propose the establishment of a Solar Ombudsman within the Clean Energy Regulator, and reform of the legislative objectives and rules of the energy market to take advantage of the rapid technological changes occurring in electricity generation.
The party is also calling for the establishment of a RenewAustralia authority, to oversee the grid’s transition from coal to renewables; an overhaul of electricity market rules; a national standard on grid connection; and the forced write-down of network assets.
“Our electricity network has to leave the centralised network in the 20th century and become the backbone of trading between commercial buildings, homes and small businesses,” the policy says.
“(A national grid connection) standard will set a clear fee structure, a timeframe for commercial and domestic connections, and provide guidelines for when connections are or are not possible,” it says.
“It must also include a right to appeal decisions of network companies when applications for connections are refused.”