Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Solar panels idle in race for rebate

Sunday Mail Brisbane
29 May 2011, Page: 12

THE solar panels are on but there's no electricity flowing to the homes of hundreds of families who have rushed to have systems installed before federal rebates are slashed by more than $1000. In a desperate attempt to qualify for extra cash, The Sunday Mail has learned some operators have guaranteed homeowners they will install the panels by the end of June. But operators have told them they will have to wait until the new financial year before the systems are operational.

That's because the homes need switchboard upgrades for the system to work, or checks by state electricity authorities. From July 1, the federal solar credits scheme will be reduced, with the average rebate to households installing a 1.5kW system in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide dropping from $6200 to $5000. The Gillard Government's Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator has confirmed the systems do not have to be operational by July 1 to qualify. They simply have to be on the roof and capable of generating electricity.

Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said that after the debacle of the home insulation scheme and Green Loans, the Government should launch an immediate investigation into the scheme. "We do not want unacceptable delays before the solar panels actually generate electricity", Mr Hunt said. "I call on Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to launch an urgent review into these allegations, to report by June 15. "The review should ensure consumer protection, and investigate whether there is any improper or collusive practice. "We don't want solar panels to go the way of Pink Batts".