The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) feed-in tariff scheme has reached its cap yet again, a mere two days after small-scale solar power systems were allowed into the eligibility envelope of the territory’s medium-scale feed-in tariff cap of 30 mega-watts. The medium-scale scheme was originally put in place for systems between 30kW and 200kW. The intention of the amendments to the legislation, pushed through ACT Parliament with the help of the the Greens and Liberals, was to offer a softer landing for the solar power industry after the small-scale solar feed-in scheme closed.
There was much political debate over the wisdom of changing the medium-scale cap to small-scale solar systems. The placing of caps for each part of the original 3-level scheme (for small, medium and large systems) was a flawed plan from the outset, according to Greens MP Shane Rattenbury, who spearheaded the push to extend the medium-scale cap to households and small businesses. He referred to the cap as an ‘artificial barrier’, which have created unnecessary strife in the solar industry. He is now supporting a plan that would see a 25-cent feed-in tariff in place with no cap.
“The challenge now for both the Chief Minister and the leader of the Opposition is to decide whether they’ve actually got the courage to remove this artificial barrier, to let the solar industry flourish in the ACT and to remove the cap. It’s not an either/or situation. We can remove this cap,” Rattenbury said.
Meanwhile, according to an article in the Canberra Times, speculation is growing as to whether the medium-scale scheme’s coming to such an abrupt end may have been due in part to some international companies approaching homeowners, offering to rent their roof-space for solar power systems. If the speculation is based on fact, there is no legal barrier to such a business approach, according to Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.
Others attribute the sudden uptake of the remainder of the cap to the fact that a large number of homeowners and small businesses who had been ready but unable to be accepted under the small-scale scheme. People in this situation would have moved quickly to take advantage of the changes in the legislation.
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
Sources and links:
ABC News: Swamped solar scheme shuts (photo at top also from ABC)
Canberra Times: Rooftops luring investors: solar industry
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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