How solar was sidelined as election issue in NSW | RenewEconomy

How solar was sidelined as election issue in NSW

Solar is said to be a rising issue in the Australian electoral landscape, particularly in states where 25% of homes have panels on their roof.


Solar is said to be a rising issue in the Australian electoral landscape, particularly in states where one-quarter of homes have PV panels on their roof.

Given this, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a front-of-mind issue for NSW voters – particularly with 300,000 homes with rooftop solar, and 146,000 of them due to lose their generous premium feed-in tariffs of 66c/kWh in late 2016 – to be replaced, perhaps, with no tariff at all.

But solar has struggled to make its voice heard in the NSW election, unlike in Queensland, where the real prospect of a change in government – and the Coalition’s targeting of rooftop solar – made it an issue, particularly in the state’s south-east.

In NSW, the issue has been overrun by the debate over coal seam gas, particularly in regional areas where safe National seats may be lost to the Greens or Labor; and by the proposed sale of poles and wires, and who they might be sold to – possibly a Chinese government-owned entity.

It’s a shame that the electricity issue has been reduced to ideological stances on public ownership, because in the politics of poles and wires the key issue for solar homeowners – and the future of distributed energy – has been in the structure of regulations and policy.

Those details, however, have not been heard. And if Mike Baird is re-elected on the weekend, that will be one of the critical issues going forward: what sort of guarantees will be written into the contract on the leases.

As for rooftop solar tariffs, both major parties have hedged their bets. The Coalition has an environment minister that “gets it” about solar in Rob Stokes, and is even supporting a scheme to encourage “virtual net metering”. But when asked this week, Stokes’ spokesman said that the issue of rooftop solar tariffs would be addressed later this year.

Labor’s leader Luke Foley also ‘gets’ solar, and his party’s election platform promises to require the pricing regulator to get a “fair tariff” on rooftop installations. Presumably that would include requiring the regulator to include the benefits of household solar on the grid, and to take a closer look at the claimed networks costs.

One interesting addition to the election intrigue is Andrew Thaler, who is standing as an independent, pro-renewables candidate, and is part of a small block of independents that has managed to get a position “above the line”

“As owners of the 407kW Singleton Solar farm and the 70kW Superdome Solar array, I choose to demonstrate the applications of renewable energy rather than blithely lobby for it,” Thaler said.

“What better way to demonstrate the potential, the outcomes, the ‘power’ of Renewable Energy than by physically delivering the idea and ‘practice what you preach’.”

Solar Citizens earlier this week published this solar scorecard on where the parties stand.



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  1. Rob G 6 years ago

    We already know exactly where the LNP stand on climate action and renewable energy both state wide and at the federal level. They are pretty much unelectable to anyone concerned about the future of our environment. But when we think of Labor things become a little cloudy and we see a party that wants a hand in each pocket, that being one for coal and one for renewables (we see this in QLD where Labor won’t walk away from the dirty industries). As I see it, this does them more harm than good – where conservative fossil fuel supporters don’t want them and centre/left voters don’t want them either. And then we have the Greens, who are basically the environmental opposite of the LNP. We know where they stand.

    My message to Labor is decide the side you want to be on and ditch the other side. Get onboard with the future of renewables and let the voters know that is exactly where you stand. Stop all fossil fuel exploits. Many voters who want to vote more centrally then the Green left what to give you their vote but are unsure where the ALP truly stand.

  2. Andrew Thaler 6 years ago

    Now, on the Sunday morning after the election, I sit here utterly astonished at just how bad the result is for me (personally) and for my Group. I just didn’t think it possible to get as low as 1 solitary vote in a while electorate… as it appears (at this point of the count 1450hrs 29th March)… 1 single vote.
    I was using this election as a kind of personal referendum on my ideas for renewable energy.. I had plans for about 6MW of community energy off the back of my existing solar farms.
    I was NOT supported by the REnergy industry at all, not with votes and not with commentary in the lead up to the election. I had to lobby Giles for this article, and then he sticks in a graphic about the major parties that does not include Independents.
    C’mon Giles, you didn’t even mention the letter of the Group that I had formed… surely that was a fundamental part of the information you could have conveyed in your article.
    That the election result is just so astonishingly terrible for me.. 50% of the count and we have 1450 votes… 1450 votes fro the WHOLE of NSW.
    I have long said the REnergy industry does not work together and there is no better case-in-point than this. I was not the sole member of the group, and yet we have a tiny tiny vote count.
    So as I keep hearing the REnergy industry complaining about all its woes… I will no longer have compassion. I will work to solve my problems, and my problems only.
    My community solar plans… gone. Dead. Why would I work to help a community that does not like me.

    So thanks for the article, too little, too late. Thanks for the referendum result.
    I was on the wrong track. I was wrong on so many things.
    Good luck. I reckon you will all need it.

    • Catprog 6 years ago

      So how would you put independents in the chart.

      How many independents where in the election? Would you have a row for each of them?

      • Andrew Thaler 6 years ago

        There were a few. I just know that with 560kW of PV I would have won 🙂

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