Victorian households will get fewer bucks for their solar power bang under new government plans to award 60% less per kilowatt hour to future subscribers of the solar feed-in tariff scheme.
New subscribers after the September 30 deadline will receive AUD$0.25c per kW hour, down on the premium rate of AUD$0.60c per kW hour for power generated by their solar power system.
The transitional rate is good until 2017, with the possibility of further cuts when an inquiry is held next year by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission.
Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O’Brien stressed that people who have already paid a deposit or are currently having a system installed must ensure all the required paperwork has been submitted before the end of the month.
The new TFiT will be available from January 1, 2012 for all customers with solar PV systems of five kilowatts or less.
Since the premium scheme was introduced in 2009, the cost of small-scale solar systems has dropped by around 50%, while the scheme has swelled to 50,000 users generating ~100MW.
“The new scheme will still mean people investing in rooftop solar systems will have an average payback period of less than 10 years, about the same as forecast when the PFIT scheme was first introduced,” O’Brien said.
“Renewable energy has an important role to play as Victoria makes the transition to a lower emissions future.
“The new TFIT scheme will provide a fair price to households feeding solar power back into the grid while also supporting the solar panel installation industry while the VCEC review is conducted.”
Environmental groups were quick to criticise the axing of the tariff rate, which national newspapers presented as a swipe at the State’s green lobby.
The announcement follows NSW’s closure of its solar bonus scheme to new applicants and a retrospective roll-back of the AUD$0.60/kWh tariff rate to AUD$0.40/kWh for existing users.