Victorian opposition leader Michael O’Brien has pledged to call for a parliamentary inquiry into the Andrews government’s rooftop solar rebate, as industry gathered in protest against the 2.6GW scheme on the steps of state parliament on Thursday.
Speaking to the rally of more than 300 solar installers and retailers, O’Brien, who is also shadow minister for small business, said that the government had got the design of the rooftop panel subsidy wrong, and needed to fix it – or scrap it – to prevent job losses and company failures.
“Who would have thought that a policy intended to expand solar in Victoria is actually on the path to killing solar in Victoria,” O’Brien told the crowd.
“It is unbelievable the way this policy, which started off with good intentions … has damaged businesses.
“When parliament resumes, (we will) push for a parliamentary inquiry into (this) complete debacle.
…The government has got it wrong and needs to fix this now.”
The rally, organised by the Smart Energy Council, also heard from solar business owners who claim that installations have come to a stand-still since the launch of the policy, which offers a cash-back rebate of up to $2,225 on solar panels; roughly half the cost of a 4kW PV system.
SEC’s chief executive John Grimes told One Step that he knew of three solar businesses that had gone into liquidation in the last couple of weeks, because the industry had been strangled by the design of the scheme.
“These are the good guys,” Grimes said. “One company under threat of liquidation bussed its entire staff of 40 people to the event. I’ve seen people in tears. It’s bad, really bad.”
Grimes said the scheme was poorly designed and overly complex, making it all but impossible for many installers and customers to negotiate. Rather than boosting the industry, it had effectively put an arbitrary cap – and at a size nearly half that of the pre-rebate market.
“We’re hurting, we’re struggling,” said one installer, who claimed that her business was doing 30 or 40 installations a month before the government dangled its “solar carrot.”
“Our factory has never been so clean, to try and keep our workers occupied.
“Would it be so bad if they cut the rebate?… If (it) didn’t exist, the market would just return to natural. …This government is restricting our trade.”
To read the full story on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, click here…