Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has been told by Prime Minister Tony Abbott that it can no longer invest in rooftop solar and wind projects.
A draft mandate has been passed to the CEFC for consultation that stop the so-called green bank from funding packages to reduce the cost of household renewable energy installations.
The CEFC responded with a tempered statement confirming that it was seeking legal advice and reassuring investors that existing deals would not be affected by the new mandate. As recently as this month, the CEFC agreed a AUS$100 million (US$77 milion) deal to back a solar leasing programme.
“The Corporation is taking advice in relation to the draft mandate and will respond to the Ministers in accordance with the procedure set out in section 66 of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 and will be providing any substantive comment on the mandate in that context,” the CEFC said.
The government has defended itself claiming that it is only redirecting finance to less established technologies as it had always said it had done.
John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council, hit out at the proposed changes claiming they would impact the poorest first.
“A key focus for the CEFC has been innovative finance models that allow low-income earners, people living in apartments, small businesses, nursing homes and churches to get solar and slash their power bills,” said Grimes.
“By prohibiting the CEFC from investing in solar projects, the Abbott government is stopping the most vulnerable from slashing their power bills”.
“This is about punishing solar families and businesses who stood up to him during the review of the Renewable Energy Target. Now he is using any means available to him to get even,” added Grimes, referencing the drawn-out dispute over the country’s renewable energy target (RET), which Abbott was keen to see abolished. After protracted negotiations with the Labor oppostion a reduced target was passed.