Update 3 Sept 2012: The Victorian government has announced that systems must be installed and all paperwork submitted by 30 September 2012 in order to secure eligibility for the Transitional or Standard Feed-in Tariffs. Once secured, rates will remain in place until 31 December 2016. Read more.
The Victorian government has announced that “in the context of the implementation of a national carbon price“, an inquiry will be carried out with regard to the state’s Feed-in Tariff incentive schemes. The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC), the state’s consumer watchdog body, will conduct the investigation, and will ultimately make recommendations about “the most appropriate arrangements to encourage Victorian households, community organisations, and small businesses to generate renewable energy”.
Government efforts to ‘improve’ Victorian Feed-in Tariff incentives, remove barriers to distributed generation
The review will not be restricted to the State’s Transitional Feed-in Tariff (TFiT), which is for small-scale solar PV generation systems of 5kW or smaller, or the Standard Feed-in Tariff, which applies to all forms of renewable energy generation, including solar PV systems of 5kW or greater. Instead, the inquiry is being conducted to take holistic look at the state of renewable energy initiatives in the State in order to determine how to obtain the most environmental and financial benefit from them. This could result in alterations to current incentive schemes, but at the moment it is entirely unclear as to what form these alterations might take.
According to the DPI website, the inquiry’s terms of reference (as set by the State Treasurer’s office) require VCEC to:
-Consider how efficient and effective feed-in tariffs are as a greenhouse gas reduction program;
-Provide a recommendation as to whether feed-in tariffs should be continued, changed, or phased out; and
-Identify barriers to a network of distributed renewable and low emission generation in Victoria, including co-generation and tri-generation
What this inquiry is: A proactive attempt on the part of the government to streamline its renewable energy incentives to make them more effective. It seems to be an attempt by the government to learn and improve its approach to renewables policy.
What it is not is a reactive, retrospective, and critical attack on a failed or bungled policy initiative, much as the inquiries into the NSW and WA Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff schemes were.
An issues paper on the inquiry is expected to be released ‘in the near future’. The issues paper will describe the inquiry’s scope, the information the Commission is seeking, and an outline of the process and timetable for the inquiry.
Current Feed-in Tariff recipients not to be affected
It is important to note, as the DPI has, that outcomes of the inquiry “will not be applied retrospectively to any customers on existing feed-in tariffs, and potential customers wishing to sign up to the current Transitional Feed-in Tariff scheme will not be affected”.
Resources and Links
Victoria Department of Primary Industries: “Government inquiry into Solar Feed-in Tariffs”
VCEC: Feed-in Tariff Inquiry Terms of Reference (pdf)
For updates on the state of affairs with the Victoria Feed-in Tariff, follow us on Twitter.
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
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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