Victoria’s solar rebate scheme will be capped to about 3000 homes a month from July 1, in a revamped, first-in best-dressed system.
The state government has changed its solar rebate scheme so that it is now similar to buying concert tickets, and will be available to renters for the first time.
Each month, a total of 3333 rebates for rooftop solar panels will be available through an online portal for homeowners, while 166 will be available for landlords and renters.
Once those subsidies are exhausted, homeowners and renters will have to wait until the next month to apply for a rebate.
The $1.3 billion solar program, which aims to subsidise 770,000 Victorian homes to install solar power within 10 years, was a major promise by the Andrews government before last year’s state election, but has been stifled by cost blowouts, unexpected demand and shonky solar operators.
The new monthly cap comes after 600 homeowners were left high and dry after they paid to install solar equipment but were unable to claim the rebate when the government suddenly halted the program in April due to huge demand.
The government originally expected to provide 24,000 rebates between September last year, when the scheme started, and April.
But it accepted 32,000 applications in that period.
And six solar providers, which exploited vulnerable customers and exposed workers to unsafe conditions, were referred to Consumer Affairs Victoria for prosecution.
The rollout from July 1 will cover close to 40,000 rooftop solar systems over the next year.
In addition to that 2000 rebates will be available for solar panels on rental properties over the year, 6000 for solar hot water systems and 1000 for solar battery systems.
The monthly supply of 3333 homeowner rebates is expected to be snapped up within days – possibly hours – of the first day of the coming months.
Premier Daniel Andrews said his government “fully expected” over-demand, but described it as “a good problem to have”.
Under the changes to the scheme, customers will be required to go through a retailer and get a tick of approval on the rebate before solar panels are installed.
Mr Andrews said his government made “no apology for putting safety first” in the more measured approach.
“I’d prefer to be perhaps criticised for the fact we’ve done this in a careful, methodical way rather than rushing it out and potentially having problems,” he said.
Mr Andrews also promised a more rigorous auditing program of providers and installers from next month. “We will check and double check to make sure this is done properly,” he said.
Mick Harris, the managing director of Melbourne-based solar company EnviroGroup, praised the new scheme because “the floodgates aren’t being completely opened” and backed it to “remove the shonky operators”.
“We in the industry have been crying out for good quality control for a long, long time, and this is delivering that, so we’re very happy with that,” he said.
The rebate amount and conditions will remain the same until December 31 this year – up to $2225 is available to households with a combined income of below $180,000.
The maximum rebate amount will drop to $1888 from January 1, and again to $1850 for the 2020-21 financial year.
Director of smart energy at the Clean Energy Council, Darren Gladman, said the scheme, including the rebate decreases, was the “best the government could do in the circumstances they were in”.
“I think the issue they are dealing with is they want to keep their election promises on a limited budget. The program was a lot more popular than they anticipated, and that causes budget issues, so your options are a bit restricted,” he said.
Mr Gladman said the industry would be watching the first-time rental property scheme “really closely”.
“The rental part of the market is the biggest part of the untapped solar market in Australia … the landlord often thinks the renter will get all the benefit, and the renter says ‘why would I invest if I’m not going to be here later?’.
“The feedback we’ve had from real estate agents is rental properties with solar on the roof are a lot easier to rent. No government has really been able to crack it yet, so full marks to the Victorian government. It really needs landlords to show interest now.”
Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Small Commercial, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems. Energy Stuff is a Clean Energy Council Member and only uses CEC accredited installers. We are registered with the Victorian Govt. Solar Rebate Program and we are currently supporting clients in their applications to the new scheme starting July 1st 2019.
For further information please call us on 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au