A proposal to make retrospective cuts to Queensland’s Solar Bonus Scheme has been ruled out by the state government, immediately after it was recommended in a report into driving down electricity prices.
The Queensland Productivity Commission’s Electricity Pricing Inquiry Draft Report, released last Wednesday, made 54 recommendations to government, including a review of its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, and cutting short its Solar Bonus Scheme ahead of the planned 2028 closure.
“There are some elements of the report that will be immediately ruled out by this government because they do cut across election commitments we made to the people of Queensland,” Treasurer Curtis Pitt said.
The report – which was commissioned in April 2015, on the back of electricity price rises of more than 80 per cent since 2006/7 – also recommended the government commit to deregulation of retail power prices in the state’s south-east almost immediately.
The Productivity Commission said that price was “acting as a barrier to customers realising the benefits of innovation evident in other de-regulated markets.”
However, the Produtivity Commission, while acknowledging that most of the power price rises came from increased network charges, did not recommend major changes to network management, apart from supporting the consolidation of the two network – Ergon and Energex – into a bigger monopoly company.
It also “cautioned” against the adoption of new business models that reflect the adoption of new technology.
The QPC recommended the government should not intervene in the market to achieve its one million residential solar rooftops target, or the additional 3000MW of residential and commercial PV target, by 2020.
It said that, without intervention, the 3000MW amount had been projected to be met by 2022, two years later than the government’s target date.
The QPC also said it believed the Solar Bonus Scheme had done its job by stimulating the local industry and helping to make solar more affordable, and should therefore be considered early closure.
“The QPC estimates that by the middle of 2020, most participants will have recovered the costs of their systems,” the report said.
© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd