Victoria Greens launch campaign to stand up for rooftop solar owners

Victoria’s Green Party has announced a campaign to support the rights state’s current and would-be solar-powered households, which already number over 207,000. If just one in 10 solar system owners change their vote, Victoria Greens chief Greg Barber says, this could have the potential to sway an election.

In a speech at the opening of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) conference in Ballarat, Mr Barber announced the party’s new pro-solar platform, saying that they are the only party that will stand up for solar voters. At the core of the platform are 3 promises which aim to make Victoria the most solar-friendly state in Australia.

The first pillar of the platform would be a ‘fair price’ for solar. This is a particularly pertinent issue in the state, whose Standard and Premium Feed-in Tariff recipients will see their rates dropped from 2016 if nothing is changed between now and then. A successful fight for fairly-priced solar export rates would also benefit potential future solar system owners. The Greens say they will push for feed-in tariff rates to be made equivalent to retail electricity rates–an arrangement commonly referred to as a ‘1-for-1 feed-in tariff’ in Australia. Currently, new solar system owners only receive in the range of 8¢ for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of power that they export to the grid.

The Greens say that they will also stand up for Victorians’ ‘right to go solar’, introducing legislation to prevent moves to hinder system owners from getting connected to the grid. This is particularly important in light of opposition to rooftop solar amongst utilities and network operators, and as the Greens allege, Premier Denis Napthine’s siding with utilities against the interests of solar voters.

The most innovative and proactive  in the Greens’ platform, however, is their goal of establishing a clean energy fund to allow Victorians to access to solar power on a level playing field. Under this fund, households would have the option to install systems at no up-front cost to them, instead paying for their system through a type of low-interest financing through power bills.

Released concomitantly with the Greens’ announcement was analysis of data (focused on in an article in the Herald Sun) showing the geographic regions of the state where rooftop solar has taken root most deeply. Suburban and rural areas of the state had the highest concentrations of rooftop solar systems, with the electorates of Tarneit, Ovens Valley and Murray Plains coming in the top spots, with 18.6%, 17% and 16.3% of dwellings having gone solar, respectively. Cranbourne and Benambra were tied for 4th place at 15.9% each.

‘Regional and suburban electorates are leading the way, installing solar panels to cut the cost of electricity today, which cuts pollution in the long run,’ said Mr Barber.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd