Victorian homeowners will be paid nearly $5000 towards the cost of household solar batteries by a re-elected Andrews government in the latest move aimed at making the state Australia’s leader in domestic-scale renewable energy.
The latest promise of subsidies for small-scale renewable energy will see households who already have solar panels able to claim half the cost – up to $4838 – of batteries that can store energy generated on their rooftops.
The announcement comes as the Andrews government commits to building six new renewable energy plants across regional Victoria, generating enough power for 640,000 homes.
The three solar and three wind farms, producing 928 megawatts of power, will be built by private companie.
Labor has been encouraged by more than 9000 registrations of interest in its subsidised solar program in the three weeks since it began its announcements.
The new batteries policy will cost an estimated $40 million, with 10,000 households expected to take part, lured by the chance of cutting up to $650 from their annual power bills with the rapidly improving battery storage technology.
The announcement is part of a suite of subsidies and payments aimed at putting solar technology in 720,000 Victorian homes.
The centrepiece of the government energy renewable election pitch, a $1.2 billion subsidies scheme offering free solar panels to 650,0000 households, was announced in August.
It was followed by a $60 million promise to pay $1000 toward the installation of solar hot water systems in homes that are not suitable for rooftop solar panels.
The latest announcement will open up subsidies to even more households – those already using solar panels to generate power – as Labor looks to build a strong cost-of-living policy platform heading into November’s election.
The focus on renewables bolsters the government’s environmental credentials as it faces a strong threat from the Greens in Labor-held inner-city marginals.
But the latest policy announcement is squarely aimed at households in growth suburbs on Melbourne’s fringes, where many of the states’ marginal seats are located and which have shown the highest uptake of solar power generation.
To be eligible, applicants will have to be owner-occupiers of a house worth less than $3 million and with an annual household income of less than $180,000.
There will be no “double dipping”, the government says, with only existing solar users able to claim the subsidy for the batteries.
Labor says a household installing an average 11kW battery could save around $650 a year on their electricity bills, boosting the savings they are already making with solar panels.
The scheme will offer homeowners a 50 per cent rebate of the cost of their new battery storage unit, capped at $4838 in the first year and tapering down to $3714 by 2026 as the price of batteries comes down.
The government says technology is in development that will allow neighbourhoods to link their batteries, creating “micro-grids” of shared stored power to lower electricity prices even further.
Labor says it will spend $10 million to preparing the state’s ageing power grid for an influx of hundreds of thousands of household micro-generation operations.
“This is a game changer for Victorian families fed up with big corporations that have been price gouging and ripping consumers off,” Mr Andrews said.
“Only Labor will put solar panels, solar hot water or solar batteries on 720,000 homes – saving Victorians thousands of dollars on their electricity bills with renewable energy.”
Labor says Solar Victoria, the new agency it will establish to manage the massive program it has promised will put safety first and there will be no repeat of the infamous loft insulation affair under the Rudd federal government.
Only “accredited” solar installers will be allowed to work on the state scheme, the government says, and only safety-approved products will be allowed to be used.