Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Solar power users will fight back, LNP warned
3 Jun 2013

Solar users could use their power as a voting bloc against the state government if it continues to make false claims about the green power, a Queensland solar installer warned today. Anthony Buckwell, who runs Sun State Solar, said 308,000 Queensland homes had solar power systems, representing more than 23% of Queensland's detached and semi-detached houses, according to the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics.

"It is supporting a $2 billion industry, supporting close to one thousand solar installers, so that would be several thousand workers", he said. "It really is 'small business'". "And if we want to get away from a one-dimensional mining economy, these are the types of businesses that should be supported".

Mr Buckwell said some groups had begun to discuss expressing their frustration as a voting bloc, using the theme "I have solar and I vote". "People are thinking of ways to get the views of solar families heard", he said. "We are talking almost 25% of households-if they start to feel unfairly targeted I think some of them will come on board".

He said solar users remained connected to the grid, but did not use the grid permanently. He said the money solar users received was reasonable because the energy they produced was 100% green. On Monday morning Mr McArdle called for a debate about the impact of solar use in Queensland. "In the 2012 13 year, $67 on each person's power bill relates to the solar benefit scheme", he said.

"By 2015 16 the QCA [Queensland Competition Authority] is saying to us, $276 on each person's power bill relates to solar benefits. Now those are people who can't afford to put solar on their roofs". "...The perverse outcome is 92,000 homes don't pay any power bills at all. I don't believe that was the intent of the scheme and a debate must be had about who should pay what in regard to their power bills when you consider that a large number of people pay no power bill at all".

Mr Buckwell accused the government of spin-doctoring, saying Friday's QCA report showed maintaining the network made up the bulk of the costs. "It is just not true", Mr Buckwell said. "If you look at the report that the Queensland Competition Authority issued on Friday, it clearly shows the breakdown", he said.

That report shows the solar feed-in tariff made up 3.9% of a typical residential bill, green schemes made up 3.5% of the bill, and the carbon tax made up 7.4% of the bill. Almost 82% of the increase to power bills will cover generating power, expanding the network of "poles and wires" and getting bills to homes. More than 46% of the increase comes from increases to the network of poles and wires.

Mr Buckwell added the federal government compensated householders for the carbon tax. "obviously they are spin-doctoring the figures", he said. "There is a 7 8% rise in the price because of their own decision to freeze tariff 11 when they first came in". Mr Buckwell said the state government was also ignoring the fact that people taking up solar power generally spent between $8000 and $15,000 to set up a system. "And local generation contributes to the local network, so it means there is less of a need to upgrade [the grid]", he said.