THE STATE government's popular Solar Homes program will re-start on July 1, with parts of Western Victoria now set to benefit from a new battery scheme.
The initial stage of the $1.3 billion 10-year program saw more than 30,000 households receive rebates for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, but in April this year, the program was paused due to overwhelming demand.
The revamped program, launched by the government on Tuesday, is offering interest free loans and rebates for the installation of 40,000 rooftop solar systems at private and community-owned houses, 2000 installations on rental properties and funding for 6000 household solar hot water systems.
A new part of the scheme will help to pump more energy into the grid, with the government to fund 1000 storage batteries in targeted growth areas with high solar installation rates, including Haddon, Snake Valley and Smythesdale.
A fixed number of rebates will be available each month but due to the number of people signing up for the program in its infancy, registrations for the program will now be applied for by retailers, rather than customers themselves.
Solar panel systems can only be installed by accredited solar installers using approved products during the program.
Ballarat electrical contractors Widgery and Wilson have so far installed around 100 solar systems through the program.
Operations manager Ricky Ryan said the business had been looking to expand before the project was paused due to the influx of work it was receiving so if the numbers from last year are any indication, he will look at expanding the team again.
The business currently has 10 electricians, with three endorsed to install batteries. The majority of enquiries they are currently receiving are for solar pv systems but due to a number of the postcodes for the battery rebate being in the area they work in, they hope to find many new clients too.
Mr Ryan said he hoped the new system of applying for the rebates would make the process smoother for customers this time as a number had encountered difficulties in the past.
To ensure the highest safety standards, the government is investing $9 million to boost the skills of solar installers and train new apprentices, while both WorkSafe and Energy Safe Australia will undertake increased auditing both during and after solar installations.
According to the government, the program will see 770,000 households take advantage of solar power during the next decade, creating 5500 new jobs, driving down energy bills and reducing the state's carbon emissions.
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