Media - Solar Citizens

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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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Welcome boost will help more Queenslanders power their lives with cheap clean energy

Solar Citizens today welcomed the Queensland Government’s announcement of interest free loans for solar and battery systems.

“A home solar system will pay for itself over time through lower power bills, but for many people it’s hard to find the money to cover the upfront cost” said Solar Citizens’ Queensland Campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“This policy will remove the roadblocks for thousands more Queenslanders to go solar, create jobs in the solar industry, and help tackle climate change at the same time – it’s a win-win-win for Queensland”

“Interest free loans for home-battery energy storage systems will be a great boost to this new industry in Queensland.

Solar Citizens also backed the trial of incentives for landlords to install solar on 1000 rental properties, cutting bills for tenants.

“Renters are often locked out of the solar boom and stuck paying high power bills. This trial will show how by working together landlords and renters can both benefit from switching to renewable energy.

“All Queenslanders will benefit from these policies, not just the households that directly take part.

“As more homes install batteries and use their stored solar power at night, that helps smooth out peaks in demand, which reduces pressure and costs on the state’s electricity grid.

“Supporting more Queenslanders to go solar brings down electricity prices for everyone by reducing demand for more expensive forms of electricity like coal and gas."

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

Rule out restrictions on rooftop solar

Solar Citizens has called on the Turnbull Government to ensure that rooftop solar will not be curtailed.

“Households and small businesses across Australia need a guarantee from the Turnbull Government that they will be able to install solar to take back control of their power bills and generate clean energy,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“Today’s reports that rooftop solar would have to be slowed down to stay below the targeted 24% wind and solar in the National Energy Guarantee are very concerning.

“The Renewable Energy Target has supported 1.7 million Australian households and small businesses to go solar and that support needs to continue.

“Rooftop solar is the only guaranteed way to lower your power bills and we need solar on more roofs, not backwards steps like these.

“The NEG is worse than business as usual, moves like this will slam the breaks on renewable investment and lock Australian households out of the benefits of clean energy.

“Solar benefits the whole community by delivering cheap, clean energy that puts downward pressure on power prices for everyone,” said Ms Tager.

A report released this week by Solar Citizens showed that in one year NSW rooftop solar cut wholesale power prices by $2.2-$3.3 billion, saving all energy consumers money.

For media inquiries: Shani Tager, 0432 050 809

Turnbull Government lost in the dark on energy policy

The Turnbull Government abandoning a renewable energy policy is deeply concerning and means states will have to fill the leadership vacuum for new, cheap and clean renewables with storage says Solar Citizens.

“Australians want policies that deliver clean, renewable and affordable energy and the Federal Government is failing to deliver,” said Maria Cirillo, Acting National Director of Solar Citizens.

“Walking away from a national plan for clean, renewable energy will mean that some Australians will suffer Summer more harshly than others, it will push up power prices and it will be bad news for clean energy jobs in regional communities,

“The Turnbull Government is more interested in playing politics when what we need Is more renewables and more storage.

“Over  1.7million Australian households and businesses with solar on their roof know that more investment in renewables is the key to more affordable, accessible power.

Analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens shows that in one year, rooftop solar in NSW cut $2.2 to $3.3 billion off the wholesale price of electricity, saving all energy consumers money.

“Solar and wind with storage is the cheapest form of new electricity generation, the Turnbull Government needs to stop propping up old, polluting sources of energy.

“State and Territory Governments are stepping up and getting on with the job but we still need a national plan that gets us to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible,” said Ms Cirillo.

The National Energy Guarantee could lead to 28-36% renewables by 2030. Solar Citizens with GetUp! jointly commissioned the Homegrown Power Plan which puts forward policies to transition Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

New Report: Lowering power prices - renewables are the answer

A new report, commissioned by Solar Citizens, has found that small solar pv systems in NSW saved energy consumers between $2.2 and $3.3 billion in the last year. 

“This report is further proof that solar benefits the whole community by delivering cheap, clean energy that puts downward pressure on power prices for everyone,” said Shani Tager, Senior Solar Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“It’s clear as day - the more solar on roofs, the cheaper power is for everyone. This shoots an enormous hole in the Federal Government’s ongoing rubbishing of renewable energy.

“It’s disappointing that the Federal Government has been more interested in political point scoring than actually lowering power prices when rooftop solar is the simple solution and has already been embraced by 1.7million Australian households and businesses.  

“Rooftop solar has always been the best way for individual households to take control of their power bills, it is indisputable, as this report shows, that the benefits are shared by all energy consumers. 

“When rooftop solar is pumping out clean power, demand goes down and so retailers don’t have to buy as much power on the wholesale market. This results in lower electricity prices for all of us.

“Imagine if more households, schools, hospitals, shops and public buildings across the country had access to cheap, clean solar power - there would be more benefits to all electricity consumers.

The report prepared by energy market consultants Energy Synapse analysed a one year study period (1 May 2016 – 30 April 2017) and found:

●      Rooftop solar PV decreased the volume weighted average price of wholesale electricity from a top of $132/MWh to $88/MWh

●      Each megawatt hour of power produced by small solar reduced wholesale costs by $1,400-$2,200.

●      The biggest monthly cost reduction was in February 2017, of at least $740 million

●      Small solar PV reduced the length of peak demand by 58% (3.1 hours), and the severity of peak demand by an average of 3% (432MW) 

“Rooftop solar produces around 2% of power in NSW but what it does is reduce demand for power at peak times - without rooftop solar, wholesale electricity prices would be 33-50% higher. 

“NSW residents want cheap, clean energy and rooftop solar just makes sense. Over 370,000 households and businesses across NSW have rooftop solar, and many more are ready to make the switch.

“While this report looks specifically at NSW, we anticipate similar outcomes for other States and Territories, including South Australia and Queensland, which have high levels of rooftop solar.

“Solar is already a big part of Australia’s energy mix, and we need to clear the roadblocks so that every rooftop that can have solar is able to get it.

“Rooftop solar benefits the whole community but solar owners have been getting a raw deal from retailers who can pay them nothing for the power they produce. It’s time solar owners got a fair price for their power.

 

Media contact: Andrew Bradley p: 0403 777 137 e: andrew@holdfast.global

SA Liberal Home Battery Support Welcome But Scrapping SA Renewable Target Leaves SA at Whim of Divided Federal Government

Solar Citizens has welcomed the South Australian Liberal Opposition’s $100 million commitment to supporting South Australian solar households to take up battery storage but says scrapping the state based renewable goal in the face of federal inaction is a major missed opportunity.

“Renewable energy with storage is the cheapest way to cut pollution and power bills so it’s positive to see the South Australian Liberals backing solar households with battery storage and funding for grid scale storage. More solar and storage will support all South Australians with cleaner and cheaper power,” Dan Spencer, South Australian campaigner with Solar Citizens said.

“Sadly, Steven Marshall’s Liberals have missed a big opportunity by committing to scrap South Australia’s 50% renewable goal, something that plays into the hands of a divided Federal Government with no plan for renewables post 2020. Scrapping SA’s renewable target is a retrograde move that sends the wrong message and it will be vehemently opposed by the South Australian community,” Mr Spencer said.

“With a strong and sensible state renewable target that drives new renewables and storage, South Australia could be a renewable superpower. Scrapping South Australia’s existing renewable goal just does not make sense and South Australians will not support it,” Mr Spencer said.

Solar Citizens says the Liberals’ plan to replace the state-owned gas plant should instead be a plan for new renewables with storage.

“Rather than replacing the state-owned gas plant with a reverse auction for existing generation, the SA Liberals should commit to run a reverse auction for new clean renewables with backup storage to make South Australia less reliant on uncompetitive, polluting gas” Mr Spencer said.

Solar Citizens says policy to support people on low incomes and renters to access the benefits of renewable energy with storage remains an enormous gap and must be prioritised by all parties in the lead-up to the March 2017 state election.

“Solar Citizens urges all political parties ahead of the SA election to support people currently locked out of the benefits of renewables with storage to have access to clean and cheap power,” Mr Spencer said.

Positives in the Liberal Plan

  • $100 million for household battery storage.

  • $50 million for grid scale storage.

  • Establish a renewable energy zone between SA and NSW with funding for increased interconnection.

Negatives in the Liberal Plan

  • Scrapping the South Australian 50% renewables goal which sends a negative message to investors and leaves policy for new generation with the Federal Government who are walking away from a Clean Energy Target and has no plan for renewables post 2020.

  • A reverse auction that benefits existing private gas generators to supply unused capacity. Solar Citizens recommends replacing this with a reverse auction for new renewables with storage.

For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632

SA Plan to Bring States Together Welcome As Federal Government Refuses to Back Responsible Clean Energy Plan

Solar Citizens has welcomed South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill’s call for the states to jointly create a Clean Energy Target following reports the Federal Government is signalling it will wash its hands of responsibility for energy policy.

“Australians want sensible policies to deliver clean and affordable energy so it’s welcome to see South Australia offering to work with other states on a Clean Energy Target, given the Federal Government appears to refuse to take responsibility,” Claire O’Rourke National Director of Solar Citizens said.

“South Australia’s leadership on renewable energy with storage is putting the Federal Government to shame and it’s welcome news that South Australia is looking to bring states together around a joint energy plan,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“Renewable energy and storage is now the cheapest form of new electricity. The time is now for a plan to use Australia’s abundant sun, wind and waves to power our nation. If the Federal Government walks away from any national clean energy target, this transition will be held back and push up power prices for everyone,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“It’s outrageous that the people running the country can’t come up with sensible policies for clean and affordable power and seem to be to busy playing politics in Canberra to act,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Solar Citizens with GetUp! jointly commissioned the Homegrown Power Plan which puts forward policies to transition Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

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For media inquiries: Steph Gray 0425 543 006

Federal Government Can’t Wash Its Hands of a Renewable Energy Future

Solar Citizens says Prime Minister Turnbull and Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg cannot wash their hands of Australia’s energy policy following reports the government is moving away from implementing a Clean Energy Target.

“Australians want sensible policies to deliver clean and affordable energy and all Australians will be let down if the Federal Government continues to wash its hands of any responsibility to deliver it,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“It’s an absolute outrage that the people running the country can’t come up with sensible policies for clean and affordable power and seem to be too busy playing politics in Canberra to act wisely,” Ms O’Rourke said.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill today indicated the states could go it alone with a clean energy target after urging the Federal Government to get out of the way.

“It’s welcome news that South Australia is looking to bring states together around a joint energy plan - what other choice do states have if the Federal Government can’t get it together and make a plan that helps people with rising power bills?,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“Renewable energy and storage is now the cheapest form of new electricity. The time is now for a plan to use Australia’s abundant sun, wind and waves to power our nation. If the Federal Government walks away from any national clean energy target, this transition will be held back and push up power prices for everyone,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Solar Citizens with GetUp! jointly commissioned the Homegrown Power Plan which puts forward policies to transition Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

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For media inquiries: Steph Gray 0425 543 006

Queensland’s solar boom leads the country – cutting bills and creating jobs

For the first time, Queensland has overtaken NSW in creating jobs in the renewable energy industry.

The monthly Renewable Energy Index calculates there are almost 6,500 Queenslanders working in the renewable energy sector.

“This is a win-win-win situation for Queensland – the solar boom is creating jobs, cutting power bills and reducing climate pollution” said Solar Citizens Queensland Campaign Manager Louise Matthiesson.

“Right now there are 20 large-scale renewable energy projects under construction in the Sunshine State.

“Those projects are spread throughout regional Queensland, from Normanton to Dalby and they are creating enough jobs to employ 5,203 people full time for a year.

“The Sunshine State is becoming the Sun-powered State. We simply don’t need another expensive, dirty, coal fired power station.

“Families and businesses are also joining the solar boom, with 4000 rooftop solar systems installed in Queensland during August.

The report calculates that these new rooftop solar systems will deliver $47 million in power bill savings for Queenslanders over the next 10 years.

“That’s an average saving of over $1000 a year for every family and business that went solar during August.

The rooftop solar revolution continues to support jobs and small businesses across Queensland, with 1,287 jobs created installing rooftop solar systems last month.

“We know that many people on modest incomes invest in solar because it pays for itself over just a few years, but Government must do more to help renters and disadvantaged households share in the benefits of the solar boom” she said.

Media contact: 
Louise Matthiesson, Solar Citizens Queensland Campaign Manager ph. 0406 041 428

Further information:
The monthly Renewable Energy Index is produced by respected industry analysts Green Energy Markets and funded by GetUp! The full report can be downloaded here.

Fairer access to solar a win for regional Qld consumers, small businesses

Today’s announcement by the Palaszczuk Government to expand the feed-in tariff for rooftop solar in regional Queensland is sensible policy that stands to help consumers and businesses, says Solar Citizens.

Households and businesses on the Ergon network in regional Queensland will be able to receive the mandated feed-in tariff of 10.1c/kWh for rooftop solar systems sized up to 30kW instead of 5kW.

“This is great news for solar and great news for regional Queensland households and businesses,” said Shani Tager, Senior Solar Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“Broadening the feed-in tariff program to include bigger rooftop solar systems is a game changer for small businesses and households in regional Queensland who are struggling with the costs of electricity,” she said.

“Installing rooftop solar is the only guaranteed way for everyday Queenslanders to take control of rising power bills.

“This is exactly the sort of policy that’s needed to increase the uptake of rooftop solar and meet the Government’s commitment of 1 million solar roofs (3 gigawatts) by 2020.

“Solar puts downward pressure on power bills because it helps take the stress off the network at peak times, such as when everyone switches on their air conditioners on hot days. This announcement will mean more solar on rooftops all over regional Queensland, helping all electricity consumers in the Sunshine State with their power prices.

“Queenslanders know that harvesting the power from the sun is the best way to go with over 520,000 households and businesses taking power back into their own hands and generating clean, cheap solar power on their own rooftops.

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Media contact: Shani Tager, 0432 050 809