Media - Solar Citizens

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Report calls for package to transform South Australia into Australia’s first renewable superpower with clean renewables to drive cheap power

South Australia is well-placed to become Australia’s first renewable superpower by exporting clean energy to the rest of the nation and the world according to the new Solar Citizens report Repowering South Australia.

As other states move to catch up with South Australia’s renewable energy leadership, the report argues South Australia cannot afford to rest on its laurels and the next state government should set a 100% renewable energy target by 2025 and plan to export a further 50% of South Australia’s energy needs to the nation and the world through technologies like renewable hydrogen.

“South Australia is leading Australia in wind and solar uptake and is now embracing new storage technologies. South Australia now has a huge opportunity to capitalise on a new investment wave in renewable and storage technologies which mean cheaper prices, more jobs and clean power” report author and Founding Director of the Community Power Agency, Nicky Ison said.

As well as raising South Australia’s renewable energy target, the report highlights opportunities to ensure the benefits of investing in renewable energy is shared across the community, including:

  • Establishing renewable energy industry precincts to co-locate energy intensive industry with renewable energy hotspots to provide cheap energy and sources of renewable heat;

  • Establishing regional community energy hubs to increase community benefit from and access to of renewable projects;

  • Collaboratively designing a well funded Indigenous Communities Clean Power Program; and

  • Establishing a publicly owned non-profit retailer to secure cheaper clean power for South Australians on low-incomes.

“Renewable energy has the potential to dramatically reduce costs for industry, put energy back into the hands of the community through community ownership and help South Australians who struggle to pay their power bills”.

“Examples like Sundrop Farms in Port Augusta which uses solar thermal for desalination as well as electricity demonstrate that renewable energy doesn’t just provide cheap power. Co-locating industry with renewable energy precincts could reduce industry’s reliance on expensive gas for heat at the same time as providing cheap sources of power,” Ison said.

Solar Citizens wants to see the report’s recommendations adopted by politicians of all sides ahead of the March state election.

“Everyone knows energy is going to be a top issue this election. What we don’t know is whether our state leaders are going to commit to backing strong investment in renewables to create cheaper power for South Australians,” Dan Spencer campaigner with Solar Citizens said.

“We’re urging all politicians to commit to powering South Australia with 100% renewable energy by 2025 and backing policies that will see everyone share in the benefits of cheaper renewable power. These policies are long overdue for South Australians who have been ripped off by big power companies for too long,” Mr Spencer said.

--ENDS--

The full Repowering South Australia can be accessed here.

For media inquiries:
Dan Spencer 0423 865 632
Nicky Ison 0402 034 580

Western Sydney Locals Beat the Heat with Solar

Cost-cutting rooftop solar helps households beat the summer heat with affordable electricity, but more needs to be done to help low-income households access the clean technology says community group Solar Citizens.

“In the scorching heat, having access to rooftop solar can be the difference between some households being able to afford to run their air conditioning while others are forced to go without,” says Maria Cirillo, Solar Citizens’ Acting National Director.

Peter and Karen Murphy are Blaxland East locals and they say that their solar makes a big difference when it comes to keeping cool.

“With solar power we're almost covering our entire bill. The last one was $14,” Peter Murphy said.

“We've had ducted air conditioning in our house since 1995 and when we got solar panels we really noticed the difference in our power bills.”

“We know a few people that want solar but the initial outlay is difficult when you've got a mortgage and kids, some people are on a tight financial budget,” Karen Murphy said.

“It's just not accessible for so many people.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way according to Ms Cirillo.

“Solar could and should be accessible to everyone, whoever they are, wherever they live, any barriers, including cost barriers, can be removed with sensible government initiatives”.  

While there are barriers for low-income households, renters and apartment dwellers to adopt solar, incentives like the ACT Government’s Solar for Low Income Households program and battery rebate scheme will help more people access the cost-cutting benefits of rooftop solar.

Other approaches include legislating that solar owners receive a fair price for the clean power they feed into the grid, so that the households that invest in rooftop solar are able to recoup the initial outlay they made when purchasing the panels.

“And it's not just the individual household who benefits by going solar, the Solar Savings report commissioned by Solar Citizens showed that in just one year solar helped all NSW energy consumers by reducing the wholesale cost of electricity by $2.2-3.3 billion,” says Maria Cirillo.

“Without all those solar owners pumping out their rooftop power, the wholesale price of electricity would have been 33-50% higher.”

“Government policies that help more households go solar bring power prices down for everyone.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

SA Solar Shines Through Heatwave Reducing Peak With More Power Than Former Port Augusta Coal

Over Thursday and Friday as South Australia sweltered, local solar owners shined reducing peak grid demand across both days. On Thursday, solar owners produced more power than the capacity of the now-closed Northern coal-fired power station in Port Augusta when grid demand would have peaked just after 3pm on Thursday without the state’s solar.

“Without solar, demand on the grid would have peaked just after 3pm on Thursday. Instead, rooftop solar provided more power than the now-closed Northern power station in Port Augusta, keeping the lights on with clean energy. On Friday, solar reduced the peak by 358.6MW far exceeding the capacity of the government’s new backup generators” Dan Spencer, South Australian Campaigner for Solar Citizens said.

“Everyday people generating their own clean power meant that peak demand was pushed back by more than 4 hours until after 7pm on Thursday and by nearly 3 hours on Friday.

Solar Citizens say the failure of Victorian coal plant Loy Yang B during the heatwave on Thursday highlights the need for South Australia to continue investing in renewable energy with storage.

“The failure of Victorian coal during the heatwave meant prices went up for South Australians. With a state election just around the corner we’re calling on all parties to increase South Australia’s renewable target to bring more local renewables with storage to SA,” Mr Spencer said.

“Along with raising South Australia’s renewables target, we’re calling on all South Australian politicians to do more to make cost-cutting rooftop solar accessible to all South Australians,” Mr Spencer said.

“More accessible solar means that more people will be able to take back control of their electricity bills while helping to safeguard the grid.”

Media contact: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632

Source: Dylan McConnell, Researcher at the University of Melbourne’s Climate and Energy College

Time to unlock solar and storage for everyone in NSW

20 December 2017: Solar Citizens calls on the NSW Government to implement the Chief Scientist’s recommendation to unlock solar and storage for everyone.

The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer released the final report from the Energy Security Taskforce including the recommendation that the Government establish a work program focused on addressing the barriers to the uptake of solar.

“Rooftop solar is the only guaranteed way to take back control of your power bills and ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are able to access the benefits of clean energy is crucial,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“NSW can do so much more when it comes to rooftop solar and unlocking access for renters and apartment dwellers, as well as those who cannot afford the upfront costs is simply crucial for powering our state into the future.

“Rooftop solar is good for everyone it generates clean energy, lowers household bills and in February it helped keep the lights on.

“A detailed analysis of the impact rooftop solar has on power prices revealed that in just one year NSW rooftop solar slashed at least $2.2 billion from the wholesale price of power, so the best thing any government can do for power prices is to make it more accessible and affordable.   

“It’s time for the Berejiklian Government to get serious about enabling everyone to have solar and ensure they’re paid a fair price for their clean power when it’s fed back into the grid.

“The Victorian Government has a mandated fair price for solar with a new peak feed-in tariff, the ACT Government has just announced a program to support low-income households to go solar  NSW households are getting left behind and this report from the Chief Scientist should be a wake up call,” said Ms Tager.

ENDS

Contact: Shani Tager, 0432 050 809

Chief Scientist Report is available here.

Impact of rooftop solar on the wholesale electricity price is here.

Turnbull Energy Plan Will Slam Brakes On Renewables & More Work On the NEG Will Only Make It More Obvious

Solar Citizens has expressed disappointment that the Turnbull Government’s anti-renewable National Energy Guarantee was not stopped by the Council of Australian Governments today.

“Australians will not support the Turnbull Government’s energy plan that has been shown to slam the door on renewable energy in Australia,” Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner with Solar Citizens said.

“It is deeply disappointing that this anti-renewable plan has been given more oxygen at COAG today, they’re simply kicking the can down the road at a time when Australia needs a clear, sensible plan for renewable energy.

“It’s been clear from the start that the National Energy Guarantee is only a guarantee for big power companies and polluting coal stations and will lock Australian households out of the benefits of clean energy,” Tager said.

Solar Citizens has welcomed South Australia and the ACT’s attempt to stop the anti-renewable National Energy Guarantee in its path.

“South Australia and the ACT listened to the community and stood strong against this anti-renewable plan from the Turnbull Government today. It is disappointing more states did not step up to stop this anti-renewable plan in its tracks,” Dan Spencer, South Australian Campaigner with Solar Citizens said.

“The so called National Energy Guarantee would put more power into the hands of the gentailer oligopoly operating in South Australia that is keeping power bills high. The solution is new renewables with storage, like the solar thermal plant being delivered by Premier Weatherill, not propping up eastern state coal generators,” Mr Spencer said.

“Until the Federal Government gets serious about powering Australia with our abundant wind and sun, the community will continue to oppose its anti-renewable plans,” Mr Spencer said.

 

For media inquiries:

Shani Tager 0432 050 809

Dan Spencer 0423 865 632

Solar Scorecard reveals widening gulf between major parties on renewable energy

Community group Solar Citizens today released a Solar Scorecard for the Queensland Election, showing the widening gulf between the major parties when it comes to renewable energy.

“Labor’s announcement yesterday of support for 1000 MW of new renewable energy in Queensland, and a publicly owned Clean Co generator puts them streets ahead of the LNP which is committed to building a new coal fired power station” said Solar Citizens Queensland campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

This election, Solar Citizens is calling on all political parties to move towards 100% clean energy by committing to three key policies:

SC_Qld_It's_Time_to_Shine_-_Solar_Scorecard_v02_-_300dpi.jpg 

“To give voters the facts, we’ve assessed the party’s policies in detail, and it’s clear that this election Queenslanders have a very important choice to make about our energy future.


“One party will take concrete steps toward a target of at least 50% renewable energy by 2030, while the other will scrap the target altogether.”

“Labor’s promises to make it easier for low income households, schools and remote communities to go solar have also not been matched by the Qld LNP.

“Over 450,000 Queensland households have put solar on their roof to generate clean power and take back control of their bills. Now it’s time for political leaders of all stripes to follow their lead.”


“The Queensland Greens policies provide the most comprehensive commitments to a renewable energy future for Queensland, while other minor parties One Nation and Katter’s Australia Party lag well behind.”

“The Greens are the only party promising to legislate an ambitious renewable energy target, support community energy projects and provide a truly fair feed-in-tariff for solar households” she concluded.


For comment contact:
Louise Matthiesson, Queensland Campaigner    ph. 0406 041 428


Background
Further details on our election policy priorities, and how the parties scored can be downloaded from our website. The scores will be updated if further policies are announced.

Renewables not coal will deliver cheap, clean energy

The Queensland LNP should back renewable energy, not an expensive polluting new coal power station, if the Party really wants to drive down energy prices, says community group Solar Citizens.

LNP Leader Tim Nicholls today announced plans that he claims will reduce power prices, including scrapping Queensland’s 50% renewable energy target.

“The Queensland LNP is misleading Queenslanders by claiming that renewable energy will drive up power prices, while hiding the real cost of its proposed new coal power plant” said Solar Citizens Queensland Campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“The LNP’s promise to build a new coal fired power station is simply not viable without major government subsidies.”

“It’s time Tim Nicholls came clean on how much this polluting new power plant will cost Queensland taxpayers”.

“If Mr Nicholls really wants to help families with high power bills, he should help more Queenslanders go solar, and harvest free energy from the sun” said Ms Matthiesson.

“500,000 plus Queensland households can’t be wrong - rooftop solar is the only guaranteed way to lower your power bill.

“All Queenslanders deserve cheap, clean, reliable electricity and renewable energy can deliver on all three fronts.”

Imaginary cost savings won’t cut bills

According to media reports, LNP Leader Tim Nicholls claims that after 2020 his government would save consumers $200 a year by “getting rid of the renewable energy target” [1].

This estimate appears to rely on an outdated and inaccurate analysis of a possible future federal Emissions Intensity Scheme, that assumes a carbon price of $69 in 2020 [2].

“Mr Nicholls seems to be promising to cut non-existent subsidies and deliver imaginary power price cuts” said Ms Matthiesson.

“Instead of scapegoating renewable energy, Mr Nicholls needs to develop a solid plan to transition Queensland’s electricity system to 100% clean, affordable renewable energy” she concluded.

 

For comment contact: Louise Matthiesson ph. 0406 041 428

 

[1] The Australian 4th Nov 2017 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/queensland-election/queensland-election-2017-palaszczuk-campaign-shifts-south-as-alp-eyes-gold-coast-gains/news-story/97890171add710563d038842ae0f598a

[2] AAP report Oct 24 2017 http://www.news.com.au/national/power-bills-forecast-to-increase-almost-2000-by-2030-under-labor-plan/news-story/4ab438804abe86acdf3887e5fc62b72a

Queensland doesn’t need an expensive, dirty new coal power plant

1 November: There’s no need to waste Queenslanders’ money on dirty coal-fired power stations says community group Solar Citizens.

“The Sunshine State is in the middle of a big solar boom, with 20 renewable projects planned or under way -- there’s simply no need for a new coal-fired power station,” said Louise Matthiesson, Queensland Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“Tim Nicholls and the LNP need to come clean on their dirty plans and why they’re suggesting taking 7 years and spending billions of dollars on old, polluting technology that’s far more expensive as getting power from the wind and the sun.

Experts say electricity from a new coal fired power station would cost $135 per megawatt hour (MWh) while new solar plants can generate electricity for around $80 MWh [1].

“There’s a clear choice -- clean, cheap power from the wind and the sun or sticking Queenslanders with the bill for dirty, expensive electricity for decades to come.

“500,000 Queenslanders have already voted with their rooftops by installing solar and know that it’s the only guaranteed way to take back control of your power bill while generating clean energy.

“We’re calling on the next state government to make Queensland the Sun-Powered State,” says Ms Matthiesson.

--ENDS--

For comment contact:  Louise Matthiesson, Solar Citizens Queensland Campaigner. Ph. 0406 041 428

[1] Sources: Bloomberg New Energy Finance Report Feb 2017 ; ABC News Feb 2017 Electricity prices could double with new coal-fired stations, energy experts say ; Aust Financial Review July 2017 ‘ Don't buy the Minerals Council costings of coal power

Queensland's choice: a clean energy future or expensive, polluting coal-fired power?

Let’s put renewables first says community group Solar Citizens. 

“Voters in the sunshine state are set to make a crucial choice - to take Queensland into a clean energy future, or get stuck in the past with expensive, polluting coal-fired power,” said Louise Matthiesson, Queensland Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“Queenslanders lead the world when it comes to rooftop solar, with over 35% of houses harvesting clean power from the sun, now it’s time for all political parties to follow their lead.

“The sunshine state is in the middle of a big-solar boom, with 20 large solar and wind farms being built this year.

“Renewable energy is already creating thousands of construction jobs, bringing investment to regional Queensland, and will provide long-term sustainable employment for hundreds of workers.

“A new coal-fired power station would put our state’s renewable future under threat, cost billions of dollars in taxpayer money and saddle Queenslanders with higher power bills for decades to come.

This election, Solar Citizens volunteers will be out in communities across the state rallying public support to convince all political parties to commit to three key policies to provide reliable, affordable, clean energy for all Queenslanders:

1. Set a strong renewable energy target

Legislate a renewable energy target to ensure that, by 2030, at least 50% of the electricity generated in Queensland comes from solar, wind and other renewables.

2. Build big solar - not new coal

Renewable energy is now the cheapest, cleanest source of electricity. The next state government should support new large-scale solar and wind farms and rule out an expensive, polluting new coal fired power station.

3. Help more Queenslanders go solar

To meet the target of one million solar rooftops by 2020, the next Queensland government must  guarantee a fair price for the electricity that solar households feed into the grid and remove the roadblocks for low-income earners, businesses and communities who want to go solar.

“All Queenslanders deserve cheap, clean, reliable electricity and renewable energy can deliver on all three fronts - it’s a win, win, win situation,” said Ms Matthiesson.

For comment contact: Louise Matthiesson Queensland Campaigner, Solar Citizens    ph. 0406 041 428

Government owned non-profit retailer could lower bills & provide access to clean energy for vulnerable South Australians

A government owned, public interest retailer could be a solution to lowering power bills for people on low-incomes currently locked out of accessing clean energy Solar Citizens says. The retailer, dubbed ‘PowerAccess’, would operate on a not for profit basis and act as an energy services company to supply electricity and other energy services such as energy efficiency upgrades and solar PV to people on low-incomes across South Australia.

The recommendation comes from the upcoming Repowering South Australia report written for Solar Citizens by Founding Director of the Community Power Agency Nicky Ison.

“For too long, people on low incomes have been locked out of the transition to clean energy. Establishing a publicly owned, non-profit retailer would give the South Australian Government the means to support the people who are struggling to pay their energy bills with affordable and clean electricity,” Ison said.

Ison suggests the retailer could become the default retailer for people in public housing and could eventually service customers currently on concession schemes.

“Making a publicly owned retailer the default for public housing tenants could support tenants to access solar and storage unlocking potential innovations like a virtual power plant on public housing,” Ison said.

The policy is based on a similar model operating in Scotland and set to expand following a recent announcement from the Scottish First Minister. Mark Henley, Advocacy and Communications Manager at Uniting Communities has welcomed the proposal.

“Too often in the energy debate, the most vulnerable South Australians are ignored even though they are the most harshly affected by increasing power bills. A dedicated non-profit retailer operating in the public interest could help correct this. Similar models are operating and being expanded in Scotland and doing this in South Australia could unlock cheaper and clean power for those who are currently missing out,” Mark Henley, Uniting Communities said.

Solar Citizens plans to make the establishment of a publicly owned retailer a key ask of politicians ahead of the March 2018 South Australian election.

“It’s clear the current private retail market is ripping off South Australians and it’s hurting the people who can’t afford it the most. A public interest retailer is a sensible idea to lower bills while providing clean power for vulnerable South Australians,” Dan Spencer South Australian Campaigner with Solar Citizens said.

“Establishing a publicly owned, public interest retailer builds on the State Government’s existing trial of solar on public housing and a bulk electricity buy for people on energy concessions and the Opposition’s move to scrap retail exit fees. It’s time to put electricity services back in the public interest and make sure everyone can access the benefits of cheap, renewable energy,” Mr Spencer said.

A briefing note on PowerAccess can be read here.

For media inquiries:

Dan Spencer 0423 865 632
Mark Henley 0404 067 011
Nicky Ison 0402 034 580

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia. Together, we take action to protect the rights of millions of Australians with solar to cut bills, create clean power and take energy generation back into our own hands.

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