Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

SAPN happy to hand out new taxes to solar customers but not pay its own

Revelations about alleged global tax evasion on the 4 Corners program last night raise yet more concerns about the activities of the South Australian network company, SA Power Networks (SAPN).

“SAPN has led the charge in its attacks on rooftop solar, relentlessly seeking to tax solar customers while, it appears, its owners are working just as hard to pay none itself,” Solar Citizens Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner said.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings or CKI, one of a string of companies named in leaked documents in the ABC’s ‘Panama Papers’ Investigation last night, controls SA Power Networks with a 51% ownership stake.

“In May 2015 the company pushed for an additional charge for all solar PV households of $100 per year. This was rejected by the AER on the grounds it was discriminatory.

The network fought back through the Federal Court where it again lost.

“The network company is now proposing a new tariff structure that it estimates will halve the uptake of solar over the next five years.

“Their ruthless attempts to slow down the uptake the solar transition, and penalise solar customers in South Australia look even more ridiculous in light of these latest revelations.

“Regulators and the general public must surely look very poorly on a company like this that wants to hand out new taxes to solar customers but do all it can to avoid paying its own,” he said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137
E: andrew@holdfastcomunications.com.au

RENEWABLES INVESTMENT: SHIFT IN GOVERNMENT DIRECTION MUST KICK-START A RACE TO 100% CLEAN ENERGY

Solar Citizens welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement today to ensure the future of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Government today also announced a $1 billion clean energy innovation fund drawn from existing CEFC allocations to be managed by the CEFC and ARENA.

“Today’s announcement indicates a positive shift towards clean energy by the Turnbull Government, following years of attacks on the CEFC and ARENA under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott,” Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said.

“However we have grave concerns that ARENA’s funding and grant making function will wither under the changes.

“Grants are essential to supporting new ideas and helping drive innovation at the cutting edge of the industry - we are very concerned that research and development could be held back without ongoing support that ARENA has been providing.

“The new clean energy innovation fund’s required rate of return will also be adjusted to the bond rate plus 1%, a positive development. The fund will also allow ARENA to make equity investments - this is a welcome additional function to the agency’s core purpose.

“ARENA must continue to provide grants to support emerging technologies, and it must retain a full independent board.

“The coming Federal election is a prime opportunity for a break with the politicisation of renewable energy that we’ve experienced in the past and to begin a new race to a 100% clean energy future by all parties contesting the poll.

“Australians love solar and renewable energy and are concerned about the economy, jobs and the cost of living. Recent polling commissioned by Solar Citizens found that the majority of voters support a gradual transition to 100% renewable power by 2030.

“It’s a realistic and achievable goal that will support an agile, diverse economy and Australian families and help keep power bills under control for the long term,” she said.

“Australians want strong leadership that can turbo charge the transition to renewable energy and make clean energy an integral part of a thriving economy.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

RENEWABLE ENERGY INNOVATION AND INVESTMENT AT RISK FROM CEFC AND ARENA MERGER

The Turnbull government’s reported plan to combine the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency is a risky gamble on the future of renewables in Australia, according to Solar Citizens.

National Director Claire O’Rourke said the reports of funding ARENA’s grants program with borrowings would harm research and development, demonstration projects and deployment projects, all core elements that ensure technological advances and strategic investment are possible.

“You can’t fund a 100% clean, renewable energy future for Australia by gambling on secure, long-term funding for major proven programs that support innovation and investment in renewables, including solar and wind,” she said.

“In the lead-up to the Federal election, we are surprised to see the Federal government pass the buck on innovation in the renewables sector.

“Funding ARENA’s grants with borrowings will see research and development disappear and it will reduce the likelihood of investment in demonstration projects.

“Deployment projects, which receive the largest proportion of ARENA's funding, would also see a dramatic fall in activity as investors would no longer have the ability to effectively manage risk or guide projects in the medium-to-long-term.

“The uncertain investment environment for renewables has already placed Australia in jeopardy of falling a long way behind the rest of the world as renewables boom and global jobs growth ramps up.

“The Federal Government should immediately restore full funding for ARENA and keep both ARENA and the CEFC organisations well supported so we can lead the world on renewable energy innovation, investment and deployment,” she said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for immediate interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533



RENEWABLES WILL ADD A$1.9 TRILLION TO ECONOMY: 
AUSTRALIA SHOULD GRAB ITS SHARE OF THE BOOM

A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released today reveals a doubling of renewable energy by 2030 could deliver USD $1.3 trillion of benefits to the global economy, sparking new jobs and opportunities for economic growth.

IRENA found doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030 can save up to USD $4.2 trillion annually by 2030 – 15 times more than the costs.

A two-fold increase in renewables such as solar would grow Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by about 1.7%, according to recent IRENA figures.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director at Solar Citizens, said renewable energy can power massive global growth but Australia must stake its claims of investment and jobs.

“Renewable energy is powering ahead -- USD $1.3 trillion worth of benefits is an incredible step for showing the power of renewables to generate wealth and employment, while lowering the cost of electricity and producing cleaner energy,” she said.

“The Turnbull Government must seize the opportunity to put Australia on a pathway to the clean energy future supported by the majority of Australians.

“The good news from this report is that we can transition our energy mix to significantly more renewables, while keeping the economy healthy and growing.

“Australians want political leadership that can deliver cleaner, more modern energy from solar and renewables.

“A strong, healthy economy relies on renewable energy, we need the Turnbull government to invest more in renewables and solar and make sure Australia grabs our share of this global boom,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004

SA GOVT SUFFERS THE WORST RENEWABLE ENERGY JOB LOSS IN THE COUNTRY: NEW ABS FIGURES

The South Australian Government must act on the renewable energy jobs loss crisis after ABS figures released yesterday showed a staggering 50 percent drop in renewable energy jobs in the three years up to 2014-15.

The figures show jobs in South Australia’s renewable energy sector sunk to an all time low of 940 in 2014/15 following a peak of 2,360 three years earlier.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens, said that the Abbott-era attack on the renewables industry had no doubt played a large part in this but that the South Australian Government could be doing more to confront the attack on solar by the SA Power Network.

“Last year the SA Power Networks launched an extraordinary attack on solar homes attempting to add a separate discriminatory fee against solar homeowners. Whilst this was defeated, SAPN is still attempting to push through changes to electricity prices that would harm solar. This company, central to the State’s electricity system, has boasted it is seeking to halve solar uptake, which is a clear case for the SA Govt to intervene.

“Laws that ensure solar owners are not discriminated against, a fair price for solar exports in South Australia and support for projects like large scale solar would certainly help deliver on the fantastic ambition the SA Government has set in terms of making the transition towards renewable energy.

“Elsewhere around the world, employment in renewables is booming. According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy industry employs 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly. Australia can’t miss out on this great opportunity.”

The new ABS statistics also reveal:

  • National employment in renewable energy activity fell by three per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 continuing a trend from 2011-12.
  • Solar energy (including roof-top solar PV, solar hot water and large scale solar PV) is the most significant source of renewable jobs, employing 8,310 people in 2014-15 and accounting for 59% of all renewable energy jobs.
  • Employment in solar energy peaked at 14,350 in 2011-12.

QUEENSLAND GOVT MUST ACT URGENTLY TO HALT RENEWABLE JOBS SLIDE: NEW ABS FIGURES

Queensland risks losing its title as Australia’s ‘sunshine state’ after ABS figures released yesterday reveal a shocking 30 percent drop in renewable energy jobs from 2011-12 to 2014-15.

Queensland has lost its mantle of the leading state for renewable energy jobs to NSW after total jobs in the sector fell from a high of 5,580 2011/12 to 3,570 2013/14. NSW increased its job count to 3,990 in 2013/14 from 3,230 in 2012/13.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens, said the renewable job figures showed it was more pressing than ever for the Palaszczuk Government to begin delivering on its election promises to get solar on 1 million roofs, ensure a fair price for solar and begin the transition to 50% renewable energy by 2030.

“The tag team of attacks on renewables by the Abbott and Newman governments have left Queensland lagging behind and at risk of missing out on the global renewable boom,” she said.

“The Palaszczuk Government must act urgently to kick-start the state’s catch up and cash in on the renewable jobs boom powering up elsewhere in the world.

“Renewables and solar are a jobs and economic growth powerhouse, critical to fill the gap left as the mining industry wanes in Queensland. Already jobs in solar power alone outweigh jobs in electricity generation in coal and gas nation-wide.

“Elsewhere around the world, employment in renewables is booming. According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy industry employs 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly. Australia can’t miss out.

“The best thing the Queensland Government can do immediately is to double down on its efforts to deliver on its election promises.”

The new ABS statistics also reveal:

  • National employment in renewable energy activity fell by three per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 continuing a trend from 2011-12.
  • Solar energy (including roof-top solar PV, solar hot water and large scale solar PV) is the most significant source of renewable jobs, employing 8,310 people in 2014-15 and accounting for 59% of all renewable energy jobs.
  • Employment in solar energy peaked at 14,350 in 2011-12.

 

GOVERNMENT INACTION HOLDING BACK AUSTRALIA’S FAIR SHARE OF RENEWABLE JOBS GROWTH: NEW ABS FIGURES

The Turnbull Government is failing to ensure stability and confidence in the renewable energy industry as new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Abbott era attacks are still holding back jobs growth in solar and renewables.

The new ABS statistics reveal:

  • Employment in renewable energy activity fell by three per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 continuing a trend from 2011-12
  • Solar energy (including roof-top solar PV, solar hot water and large scale solar PV) is the most significant source of renewable jobs, employing 8,310 people in 2014-15 and accounting for 59% of all renewable energy jobs.
  • Employment in solar energy peaked at 14,350 in 2011-12

Claire O’Rourke, Solar Citizens National Director, said the figures showed urgent national action is needed for Australia to turn around the slow down and cash in on the renewable jobs boom powering up elsewhere in the world.

“Malcolm Turnbull has publicly stated his support for renewables but the ABS figures released today clearly show it’s time he must move from rhetoric to action,” O’Rourke said.

“The Australian renewable industry is still being held back by uncertainty over government policy and investment.

“The bill seeking to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is still in play - it is a potential trigger for a double dissolution election but more importantly creates uncertainty for the orderly development of renewable energy technologies and projects.

“If the Federal Government is serious about making job creation and a healthy economy a priority, then it can’t pass on this massive opportunity in solar and renewables.

“Elsewhere around the world, employment in renewables is booming. According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy industry employs 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly. Australia can’t miss out.”

“Despite the decline, the renewable energy sector still employs more people than the entire coal and gas electricity generation sector which in 2007 employed 9,487 people. Since then, this has declined.

“The Federal government needs to remove all remaining uncertainty and articulate a clear, reasonable and ambitious plan on clean energy that stimulates business investment in renewables and provides a fair go for solar owners,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Notes

1. ‘Employment in Renewable Energy Activities, Australia, 2014-15', ABS Report 4631.0, 15 March 2016, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/latestProducts/4631.0Media%20Release12014-15

2. ‘Renewable Energy and jobs - Annual Review 2015’, IRENA, http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu=Subcat&PriMenuID=36&CatID=141&SubcatID=585 

3. 'Will we let the sun shine in’ The Australia Institute, July 2014, http://www.tai.org.au/system/files_force/PB%2065%20Will%20we%20let%20the%20sun%20shine%20in.pdf?download=1 

Government Report on Solar Price recommends “doing nothing” to address unfair solar price

Solar Citizens has warned that recommendations from a Government report released today on solar power feed-in prices will allow large, State owned power companies to continue to rip off solar owners for years to come and fail to realise the benefits rooftop solar brings to all consumers.

“This Queensland Productivity Report has completely ignored the main obstruction to fair feed-in prices for solar owners - that is the costs imposed by the State-owned networks”, said Reece Turner, Consumer Campaigner.

“Excess solar power that travels a few metres over a neighbour’s fence is charged the same high rates for the use of the poles and wires as power that travels hundreds of kilometers from coal or gas fired plants. The benefits of rooftop solar are failing to be realised and all Queensland consumers are suffering"

“Presently, we have a situation where solar households are paid no minimum price for excess power that goes back onto the grid. Retailers commonly pay solar households 4-6c / kWh. This is then on-sold by a retailer to the neighbour at an 800% mark-up or more”, said Turner.

The report acknowledges that “There may be some localised network benefits from solar PV” but then fails to explore this.

“Queenslanders are leading the world in the take up of residential rooftop solar and have invested millions of their own dollars towards a cleaner, healthier renewable energy future, but the big, State-owned companies are failing consumers. The commission’s report does nothing to address or even recognise this”, said Turner

The Palaszczuk Government was elected on a strong platform of supporting solar and renewable energy in contrast to the destructive policies of the Newman LNP government. A key promise was an inquiry ways to ensure a “fair feed-in price” for solar households.

“A Draft Report on Electricity Prices released last month also over-looked ways to address network costs (or “gold-plating”) although they account for 87% of the rise in electricity prices”

“Solar Citizens urges the Government and the QPC to stop ignoring the network costs that costing Queenslanders are are preventing a fair price for solar customers.”

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT PROPOSES FAST-TRACK CONNECTION OF ROOFTOP SOLAR TO THE GRID

Solar Citizens has welcomed the Andrews Government’s plan to cut waiting times for
households wanting to instal rooftop solar, connect to the electricity grid and save money on their power bills.

If passed, the National Electricity (Victoria) Further Amendment Bill 2015, introduced into parliament this week, would align Victoria with national connection standards, which demand tighter timeframes from electricity distributors for connection to the grid.

Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner said the changes could slash waiting times for connecting small-scale rooftop solar by up to 55 business days.

“Victorians love solar -- and this new law will allow households to join the solar revolution quicker than ever,” he said.

“It will deliver on the Government’s promise to protect the interests of Victorian energy consumers, while reducing electricity costs and growing clean energy for the state.

“It also builds on changes the Victorian Govt made to the National Electricity (Vic) Act in last year to stop discrimination by retailers against solar owners.

“Victoria is home to more than 277,000 solar homes. These are households who have decided to beat the rising costs of electricity by taking power generation into their own hands. Solar households are most common in lower income suburbs.

"In the process these solar powered homes reduce the need for expensive new poles and wires, stimulate jobs in the renewable energy industry and create clean, cheap energy that helps all Australians.

“We urge parliament to pass this law and help ensure a bright future for solar in Victoria,” he said.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004

NSW GOVERNMENT’S NEW METER PUSH COULD COST SOLAR HOMES THOUSANDS

Solar Citizens warns that the NSW Government’s lack of planning around the transitioning of early solar customers to new metering arrangements could trigger a crisis for 150,000 solar homes across the state.

Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner said the NSW Government had made a dog’s breakfast of managing the move towards metering which aims to push out smart meters and the impending halt to the 60c/kWh solar feed-in price at the end of this year.

“The Baird Government has talked up solar but it’s actions risk delays and cost pressures for solar households during the transition to new feed-in and metering arrangements,” he said.

“Solar homeowners will be forced to pay for new meters that could cost up to $700 dollars - which in some cases provide less information about their solar than they currently have.

“There’s no detail on how the meter change will roll out across the state and it’s not clear whether all solar homes can be fitted with new devices before the 60c/kWh feed-in price expires at the end of the year.

“It’s debatable whether there are even enough electricians and meters to deal with this whole-of-state transition. Any solar home left without a new meter will lose access to their solar power and be left paying more for non-solar electricity from the grid.

“The Baird Government said NSW can be “Australia’s answer to California” when it comes to clean energy, but NSW has gone from a solar leader to a solar laggard.

“The Baird Government must do better - this needs to be fixed, fast,” he said.

Reece Turner is available for interview.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004