New QLD program unlocks benefits of solar for renters

Queensland Labor has opened the way for thousands more homes in the Sunshine State – including the largely untapped rental market – to gain access to rooftop solar and battery storage.

Launched this week as part of the Palaszczuk government’s $2 billion Affordable Energy Plan, the new policies will offer no-interest loans to consumers who don’t have the up-front capital to install solar and battery storage. They will also work to give landlords and renters equal access to solar, through a trial initially involving 1000 rental households.

Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey said the rental solar scheme had the potential to save tenants up to 10 per cent off their annual bill, or up to $150 a year, while landlords could get a rebate of up to $520 per year.

“Under this trial program we will offer financial incentives to landlords to install solar systems and pass on savings to their tenants,” Bailey said. “(It) will embrace the falling costs of solar technology and offer clean energy to renters – which has been an inaccessible market segment.”

The energy loan scheme, he said, would open from March 2018 – two months ahead of the May deadline for the upcoming state election – giving low-income homeowners access to savings of up to $700 a year.

State Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the loan scheme would not only help low-income households and small businesses to cut their electricity bills, but would help to kick start battery industry growth in Queensland.

Both the solar loan and rental schemes are also expected to help the Palaszczuk government to reach its target of 1 million solar rooftops, or 3,000 megawatts (3GW) of installed capacity, by 2020. Currently, the state sits at around 1.8GW, which makes combined solar installations bigger by capacity than the state’s biggest coal plant, the 1780MW Gladstone Power Station.

They also represent another major push by Queensland Labor to help the state’s households reduce their energy bills, as summer and the 2018 election approaches. The key plank of this push has been a $300 million “rebate” aimed at cutting home and small business electricity bills starting in January 2018.

Other measures include giving homes and businesses access to a $300 rebate to buy energy-efficient appliances, while for manufacturers and other large energy consumers, energy audits are being made available, with a 50 per cent co-contribution to implement the resulting recommendations, worth up to $250,000 per customer. This measure is expected to deliver savings of between 10-40 per cent for large industrial customers, the government said.

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