Solar advocates travel to Canberra to tell politicians: Don’t Tax the Sun! - Solar Citizens

Solar advocates travel to Canberra to tell politicians: Don’t Tax the Sun!

Media Release

02 December 2013

While the conversations about climate are focussed on the carbon price, a group of 20 solar advocates are travelling to Canberra on Monday, 2 December, to send a different message to politicians about energy consumption in Australia - presenting a petition of over 25,000 Australians asking politicians to not tax the sun.

The advocates are members of Solar Citizens, a community voice for solar. The Solar Citizens will be having conversations with over 30 Federal politicians and will be presenting the 25,000+ strong petition to Greg Hunt and Ian Macfarlane, highlighting the need for positive measures to help the growth of solar throughout Australia.

“Just two months ago, the Australian Energy Market Commission released a report recommending looking at higher fees for solar owners, claiming that solar is being subsidised by other households. But, the facts show that this isn’t true. The average electricity bill is increasing because of investment in poles and wires and network costs, which accounts for 50-70% of your energy bill,” Adrian Brown, a spokesperson for Solar Citizens, says.

“Solar is a small portion - less than 6%. So, why is solar being blamed? The simple answer is that it appears that big energy companies are trying to dictate our energy future, attempting to salvage their profit margins and investment in the network - and penalising solar along the way.”

“This might have just been a recommendation, but as has been shown recently in Queensland and Western Australia, slugging solar seems to be the default solution for politicians. That’s why tens of thousands of Australians have added their name to our petition - and why these 20 solar advocates will be having conversations with Federal politicians.”

“Currently, nearly 1 in 7 homes - or over 1.1 million -  have solar on their rooftop. That’s 3 million Australians, mostly low income households and families in regional areas, who have invested over $8 billion dollar to take power over their bills. This investment has translated to saving families nearly $650 million on energy bills while generating 2,800 megawatts of clean energy.”

“According to ABS data, families spend on average nearly $100 a week on electricity costs. Making the move to solar is a real way for families to take power over their bills and do their part for our environment,” Mr Brown says.

Geoff Bragg, NSW Chairman of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and a solar installer in regional NSW with a decade of experience in the industry, notes that growing solar also has the ability of creating local jobs for Australians.

“This move to solar has created a real industry, creating over 18,000 jobs in solar across the country through hundreds of local solar companies. This industry has a real potential to continue to grow - as long as stability is ensured in the solar industry,” Mr Bragg says.

“Obviously an introduction of extra costs or fees to solar would hamper this growth and stall the growth of solar - and solar industry jobs in Australia.”

“Solar Citizens are here in Canberra to tell politicians that we need to continue the growth of solar in Australia. Positive measures need to be in place to ensure the growth of solar in Australia, which reduces household energy bills, provides jobs in our communities and allows families to do their part to help the environment. Obviously, implementing extra fees or costs for solar would be the antithesis of this,” Mr Brown says.

The Solar Citizens travelling to Canberra include solar industry representatives, solar families, retirees with solar and many others. Solar Citizens plans to continue this campaign against any additional fees to solar by presenting the petition to State Premiers and Energy Ministers later in December.

Petition available here:

Petition text below:

Dear Prime Minister, State Premiers and Energy Ministers,

Recently, the Australian Energy Market Commission recommended increasing penalties and tariffs to solar owners – in effect, taxing the sun.

This sun tax is outrageous – over 1 million families in Australia have made the move to solar to take control of their energy production and reduce their energy bills. It’s unfair that families who have done the right thing would be penalised in any way.

Solar is not what is driving up electricity costs. Investment in poles, wires and dying technologies are. Instead of a sun tax, you should look at the best way to deal with those network costs, which are, in truth, the real costs increases that are hurting all Australians.

Solar energy is the energy production of the future, growing internationally and rising rapidly here in Australia. We should be increasing investment in solar – not penalising families and letting big power companies dictate our energy future.