Ballarat’s efficient energy leaders are excited about the prospect of more homes being equipped with solar panels, as energy heats up as a Victorian election issue.
Premier Daniel Andrews made a $1.2 billion election promise over the weekend for the state government to pay the upfront costs on a medium-sized solar system, assisting up to 650,000 homeowners across the state.
Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions (BREAZE) president Ian Rossiter said the new scheme will “quickly reduce the pay back period” for investing in rooftop solar panels.
“It’ll probably make it a two-to-three-year return on investment for people,” he said. “It’s going to greatly reduce people’s annual energy bills, and provide some immediate relief after shelling out a bit of money.”
Mr Rossiter has had solar panels installed in his home for more than seven years, and now pays only $200 annually per year for electricity. He said unlike the federal government’s insulation disaster, the solar energy industry is rigidly regulated.
I think one of the big fears with a government-funded program is, ‘oh no, are we going to have another pink batts disaster?’ But this is a totally different proposition, because it’s a highly regulated industry.- Ian Rossiter, BREAZE president
“Only people who are accredited, properly trained in electricity and understand the risks to structures and personal risks are allowed to work in that space. And no one can have them connected without the power authorities certifying them.”
Families living in their own homes worth up to $3 million and with annual household incomes of less than $180,000 would be eligible for the payments, with the government saying 90 per cent of home owners in the state would be eligible.
On Monday, Mr Andrews made another election energy promise, with plans to give 60,000 Victorian households $1000 each toward the cost of a solar hot water system if it is re-elected in November.
Houses can take part in the half price solar panels program or the $1000 hot water rebate, but not both.
Labor says its big ticket solar plan, which would see the government pay half the cost and provide interest-free loans for the other half, could help families save up to $900 on their annual bills.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy suggesting the government's projections for household savings might be a little less sunny.
"I've had solar at home for about two years and anybody who says that having solar at home is going to drop their bills by about $1000 a year, I think they're dreaming," Mr Guy said. The Liberals committed last week to provide Ballarat High School with $50,000 for the installation of solar panels and energy-efficient lighting if elected.
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