Origin Energy has backed calls from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for the federal Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme to be wound up early, ahead of its scheduled phase-out in 2030.
The SRES, which provides an upfront rebate for rooftop solar installations, was targeted by the ACCC as part of its review of electricity pricing and supply, and where it has gone wrong for consumers.
The ACCC recommended closing the scheme in 2021, nine years ahead of schedule, not just because the costs of installing solar had dropped, but because of the cost – relatively very, very small – that the subsidy was adding to the power bills of non-solar households.
Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes, among others, expressed his disbelief that the ACCC would target “the one thing householders can do to slash their power bills.”
But Frank Calabria, the CEO of Origin – one of Australia’s big three gen-tailers, which also happens to be Australia’s leading commercial solar installer – said on Thursday that said he agreed that the SRES should be abolished, because there was no need for it any more, and because it added to the cost of consumer electricity bills.
“The rooftop SRES has been in place for a number of years, and we believe the cost of those (rooftop solar) systems no longer warrants the subsidy being in place,” he said, during the company’s 2018 fully-year results briefing on Thursday.
But others in the industry have a distinctly different view, including Ric Brazzale from Green Energy Trading, who notes that the benefits to consumers through keeping the scheme far outweigh the benefits to consumers of scrapping it.