Report shows path for Victoria to generate jobs, revenue through clean energy-friendly policy

Victoria could save tens of millions of dollars and generate hundreds of jobs by tweaking current policy settings on small-scale solar and energy efficiency, a new report has found. The report, issued on Wednesday by the Clean Energy Council, highlights how easy it would be for the Victorian state government save costs, boost jobs – and provide cleaner energy.

The report – Quick clean energy jobs for Victoria – is being released ahead of the Victoria state election, and includes five clean energy ideas to create hundreds of jobs at no additional cost to consumers, and reduce state spending.

The focus is on solar technologies like rooftop PV and solar hot water, as well as energy efficiency.

The CEC says that the cost of the proportional discount given to low income households on their power bills could be reduced if their hot water systems were replaced with solar hot water systems.

“Bringing forward budgeted payments to fund solar hot water systems could create new jobs, lock in savings to state budget by tens of millions of dollars and help households to reduce their power bills – all while increasing clean energy use across the state,” the report says.

It puts the savings of this initiative alone at more than $100 million over 10 years – compared to the cumulative cost to budget of a business-as- usual approach to hot water systems of $76 million by 2022 – while creating 160 new jobs.

The report also suggests cutting red tape for commercial solar projects – red tape which it says has made Victoria the “least attractive place” in Australia to invest in innovative financing models for commercial solar.

It also calls for changes to allow ‘three-way contracts’ to help renters or low-income home owners to lease rather than buy a solar power system.

The report notes that, because of the dramatic reduction in the price of solar panels over the last few years, a home solar system is now affordable for households on lower incomes.

The suburbs with the greatest concentration of solar households are the places where the average household is on a low or fixed income, such as Hoppers Crossing and Tarneit.

But the price of solar was only one of the barriers limiting uptake of the technology; the other main barrier to solar is a lack of legal right to install a system (for renters or public housing).

That barrier, says the CEC, has created unmet demand for solar. Action from the Victorian Government to help remove those barriers could create a wave of new investment in solar over a short period of time, creating new jobs across the state.

The report also recommends the state government revisit insulation in low-income and rural households in Victoria, arguing that when “sensibly addressed,” insulation is another area of massive opportunity for Victoria.

“By making insulation eligible under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target, extending the target and introducing an accreditation and training scheme, there is the potential to deliver jobs for tradespeople while helping households to save on their heating and power bills,” CEC acting CEO Kane Thornton said in a statement on Wednesday.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson

Giles Parkinson regularly contributes unique content to Solar Choice News. Giles is the founder and editor of clean energy industry news service RenewEconomy. He is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the founding editor of Climate Spectator.
Giles Parkinson