Memo to Abbott: voters want more rooftop solar, not less

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Survey finds majority of Australian voters think Abbott govt has failed to support renewable energy, particularly solar for low-income households.

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The Abbott government’s ideological opposition to renewable energy could wind up costing it votes at the next federal election, with a new survey revealing more than half of all voters believe the Coalition has failed to give enough support to Australia’s renewable energy industry, and particularly rooftop solar.

In a survey conducted by Essential Research, 60 per cent of respondents said they thought coal had received enough federal government support, while more than 50 per cent believed renewable energy technologies like wind farms (56%), big solar (55%) and rooftop solar (57%) had not.

The survey also indicated that this lack of federal support for renewables could be a vote-changer, with 55 per cent of respondents saying they would be more likely to vote for a party with a policy of increasing renewables support, such as Labor or the Greens.

solar rooftops

 

The results of the survey also indicated that this voter support was more than ideological, with 56 per cent of respondents agreeing that the renewable energy sector would deliver more jobs for Australians in the future than coal industry would.

Interestingly, the renewables sector respondents felt most passionately about was rooftop solar for low-income households, which 63 per cent of those surveyed said had not been given enough support by the federal Coalition.

Funding programs that enable low-income households to access cheaper, cleaner energy like rooftop solar – as well as those who can’t physically install rooftop solar, such as inner-city apartment dwellers – has been a key plank of the US Obama government’s latest policy announcement on renewables.

The plans, announced by the Obama Administration in the first week of July, aim to effectively triple the amount of rooftop solar installed on low-income housing in America, as well as to boost the development of community or “shared” solar projects.

The policy includes clearer guidelines on how local housing authorities can access federal funds to finance PV installations, as well as $520 million-plus in new capital from foundations, local governments and social impact investors, set aside to pay for solar and energy-efficiency projects for lower-income communities.

While Obama has struggled to get certain environmental policies past the Republican-heavy House of Reps and Congress, support for solar energy has been on the rise in America’s Conservative political circles.

In particular, a faction of the ultra conservative US Tea Party – the Green Tea Coalition – has championed the solar cause, as the ultimate example of free-market principles.

Not so in Australia, however, where the Abbott government’s latest directive to the CEFC, the federal government’s green bank, was to cease funding any and all small-scale PV projects.

Dan Scaysbrook, the national campaign director for lobby group Solar Citizens – who commissioned the survey, said the poll results once again illustrated that the majority of Australians wanted more solar not less.

“Sixty-three per cent of participants overwhelmingly support a program to help low income earners install rooftop solar to take control of their electricity bills,” Scaysbrook said in an email to RenewEconomy on Tuesday.

“Despite this community mandate we have seen the Abbott government constantly attack renewable energy in Australia.

“Nearly 1.4 million Australians have already shifted to take control of their electricity bills and go solar. The Australian people want to see leadership from all of our political parties around this energy transition,” he said.

Solar Citizens last year launched a Stand Up For Solar campaign, which calls for a fair go for solar owners and includes a renewable energy goal of at least 50 per cent by 2030, and a national plan to help low income earners and renters go solar.

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7 Comments
  1. mick 4 years ago

    be interesting to know a bit more about the respondents they sound a pretty educated bunch imho

  2. JustThink4Once 4 years ago

    As rooftop solar gets cheaper a greater percentage of people will see it as important to their financial bottom line. Right now the focus is on destroying commercial renewable energy, the next target for decimation by this government would logically be domestic. Fear of this likely next step may just tip the electoral scales away from the coal party for several terms.

  3. Chris Fraser 4 years ago

    It’s a pleasing result from the survey, perhaps the trick is to get the people to vote for the best renewable energy candidate they can find. In most electorates, it probably wouldn’t even need much research. But all those good intentions go awry if some opportunistic retail political party comes along and preys on the people’s fear of Great Big Taxes, increased GST, Super reform, Boats, noisy windmills on Rotto, and those that are “coming to get us”. Couldn’t happen here could it ?

    • mick 4 years ago

      you would end up up with a bunch of independants of many a stripe because the retailers are imbedded as we all know perhaps a cynical and fearful govt would make a rule requiring 500 members to be eligible not here of course

      • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

        Normally i like a benevolent government party to have a bit of a majority for the sake of getting any change done … but if the alternatives are not getting their act together – those independants start to look real good !

    • Charles 4 years ago

      I’m surprised the Greens don’t have a higher percentage of the vote, given how popular many of their policies are according to national polls. There will always be some who won’t vote for them because (a) “It’s the Greenies, Greenies destroy jobs” or (b) Don’t understand our electoral systems and think “voting for a minor party is throwing away your vote”.

      • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

        I considered the CPRS to be a reasonable “beginners” climate policy. Senator Wong worked her backside off to convince the Greens – but it seems the CPRS was not radical enough. Some voters think the Greens are working against themselves. Anyway the two most responsible for voting the CPRS down are pursuing their own interests henceforth.

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