Tuesday, 15 May: Solar owners responded to a proposal to cut feed-in tariffs (FiT) by descending on NSW Parliament House this morning in tracksuits and sweatbands to call for a fair price for their solar.
More than 20 solar citizens participated in the Keep Solar FiT stunt to urge the State Government to mandate a minimum fair price for the solar feed-in tariff. The group made use of dumbbells and an imitation barbell and performed an aerobics routine to ‘Walking on Sunshine’.
“Solar owners are tired of doing the heavy lifting and not seeing any gains. The NSW Government needs to step in and mandate a fair price for rooftop solar that’s fed back into the grid,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“More than 400,000 households across the state have stumped up their own money to put solar on the roof, they’ve done the legwork, it’s time for the government to do their bit and ensure they get a fair price for the power they produce.”
The stunt was in response to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) recent proposal to slash the recommended solar feed-in tariff from 11.9-15c/kWh to 7.5c/kWh.
NSW Shadow Energy Minister Adam Searle and Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith spoke at the action and demonstrated support for mandating a fair price for solar. NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin did not attend.
The Greens took the opportunity to announce their intention to later this week introduce a Private Member’s Bill to mandate a minimum fair price for solar.
A report commissioned by Solar Citizens found that in just one year solar households saved NSW energy consumers $2.2 billion.
“This latest proposal from IPART is a slap in the face to all the households that are pumping out clean power and reducing the cost of electricity for everyone,” says Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner for Solar Citizens.
“It’s time for NSW to adopt a fair minimum feed-in tariff that recognises the financial, environmental and health benefits that solar households provide to the whole community.
“Already, 12,107 people have signed our petition calling for a Fair Price for Solar.”
Media contact: Shani Tager 0432 050 809
Photos and video of the stunt can be found here.
Last night’s Federal Budget backs old, polluting technology instead of fast-tracking a fair transition to renewable energy by supporting Australians who want to go solar, according to advocacy organisation Solar Citizens.
Solar Citizens are concerned that the Treasurer mocked measures to transition to renewable energy in his speech, ignoring the important role of solar households and attacking sensible renewable energy targets.
“When the Turnbull Government attacks renewable energy, they’re attacking the 5 million plus Australians who live under a solar roof and want to see Australia powered by clean, renewable energy,” said Joseph Scales, National Director at Solar Citizens.
The Treasurer confirmed in his speech that from 2020 the government will phase out support for households to go solar.
“Rooftop solar is the only guaranteed way to take back control of your power bills while doing your bit for the environment, it’s staggering that with record high power bills the government wants to make it harder for people to get solar.
“This budget seeks to lock us into a National Energy Guarantee which will slam the brakes on the clean energy boom that is boosting jobs and investment across Australia.
“It’s pretty rich for the Treasurer to ask us to rely on the big energy corporations to give us a “better deal” when they’ve been making billions of dollars in profit from household power bills.
“This budget was a missed opportunity for renewable energy and to support households, it failed to provide any new measures to allow for the take-up of solar and undermined existing measures,” said Mr Scales.
Solar Citizens is calling on all political parties to support a fast, fair transition to renewable energy and to help low-income households, people who live in apartments and renters be able to access the benefits of rooftop solar.
Media contact: Stephanie 0425543006
Solar Citizens has called on the NSW Energy Minister to step in and ensure solar owners get a fair price for the solar they feed into the grid after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal today released a recommendation to slash the feed-in tariff to 7.5c/kWh, down from 11.9-15c/kWh.
“A feed-in tariff of 7.5c is simply daylight robbery and it’s time for the NSW Government to make sure that NSW solar households are getting a fair price for the clean power they produce,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
IPART is proposing to cut the feed-in tariff benchmark because the wholesale price of electricity during the day has fallen due to increased solar exports.
“You wouldn’t pay an employee less because they were delivering great outcomes, so why would you rip solar owners off because they are bringing down the price of power for everyone?
“Solar households in NSW cut $2.2 billion off the the wholesale price of power for everybody in the state in just one year and they helped keep the lights on during the heatwaves.
“The NSW Government needs to step in and mandate a fair price for rooftop solar that’s fed back into the grid, recognising the many benefits of rooftop solar, such as grid savings, environmental and health values that are not recognised at the moment.
“A fair, mandated feed-in tariff means solar households aren’t left at the mercy of big energy companies and have certainty about their household budget.
“400,00 plus solar households in NSW have stumped up their own cash to put solar on their roof and unless the Government does something big retail companies will pay them a pittance for the clean energy they produce,” said Ms Tager.
Solar Feed-in Tariffs are paid to solar owners for the excess electricity that they generate and feed into the grid. In NSW IPART sets an annual benchmark to guide electricity retailers in setting their feed-in tariff.
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
Friday, May 4: Survey results show that solar owners on a premium feed-in tariff (PFiT) are ready to upgrade their system and install batteries but are held back by the prospect of losing their tariff.
A new report by community group Solar Citizens shows that a voluntary buyout of premium feed-in tariffs which provides participating households with an upfront sum for an expanded solar system or battery storage offers a viable solution.
In Queensland alone there are over 250,000 households on the PFiT. The buyout scheme would open the floodgates for the uptake of battery storage across Australia, potentially leading to three times more battery storage than South Australia’s big battery.
“We surveyed 340 solar owners on a premium tariff and found that 76% were interested or potentially interested in participating in a voluntary buyout,” said Shani Tager, Solar Citizens Senior Campaigner.
“Early adopters of solar have seen firsthand the benefits of producing their own clean power and many are ready to go that step further and upgrade their system or install a battery.”
“The premium feed-in tariffs did an excellent job of kicking off the rooftop solar industry in Australia, creating thousands of jobs and helping households generate clean power and take back control of their energy bills."
However, the rules of the premium tariffs mean that early solar adopters are unable to upgrade their system and add storage, which many households want to do with the price of solar and household batteries coming down.
In addition to providing a lump sum for participating households, the proposed buyout scheme would also split the payment to establish a fund to help low-income households get solar.
The survey found that 46% of solar owners were more likely to participate in the scheme if the savings were shared with low-income and vulnerable households.
“This scheme could generate up to $400 million in funding for low-income and vulnerable households to access solar, storage and energy efficiency, providing much needed relief to households who are feeling the pinch of high electricity prices,” said Ms Tager.
“We emphasise that any premium feed in tariff buyout must be completely voluntary - these homeowners have contracts that give them a right to continue with the higher feed in tariff if they prefer."
Solar owner in Premium FiT:
Brisbane locals Gordon and Mary installed a 1.2kW system in 2009 and think the buyout scheme is a fantastic idea.
“The Premium Feed-in Tariff I’m on is very generous, but with the reduction in the price of new panels and batteries it’s like having golden handcuffs,” said Gordon.
“I’m increasingly feeling trapped by the contract we signed as we can’t invest in additional panels or batteries without losing the PFiT. So I’m open to the idea of some kind of buyout scheme.”
Low-income household looking to go solar:
Susan Maygar, a pensioner from Victoria who’s looking to get solar and storage for the savings, thinks it’s absolutely a good idea to give low-income households a helping hand – both financially and by providing more advice on reputable installers.
“There’s an awful lot of people who are really struggling in Australia and they’re the ones who need solar.”
“As far as I’m concerned solar with a battery is the only way to go so that I can afford to run my air conditioner in the future.”
“In Winter, I’d say 90 percent of our pensioners are rugging up instead of using heating to save.”
This report was funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and is available here.
April 18: New details released on the National Energy Guarantee will see solar owners doing the heavy lifting when it comes to producing clean power, letting big retailers off the hook according to community group Solar Citizens.
Documentation circulated to state and territory energy ministers over the weekend indicates that under Turnbull’s NEG energy retailers will be able to claim the carbon credits from customers’ rooftop solar as their own.
“This puts big energy retailers first at the expense of households and is another reason why the National Energy Guarantee doesn’t stack up. We really need to ask in whose interest this policy was made,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“Over 1.8 million households and small businesses have stumped up the cash to put solar on their roof to take back control of their power bills and do their bit by generating clean energy.
“Solar owners, from pensioners to young families, didn’t install panels so that energy retailers could profiteer and get a free ride which is exactly what this proposal suggests."
Things are already tipped in favour of the big energy retailers. In most states governments have failed to legislate a fair minimum feed-in tariff that retailers are required to pay, so solar owners are often paid a pittance for the clean energy they feed back into the grid.
“Only in Victoria are the environmental benefits of rooftop solar acknowledged in the form of a mandated minimum feed-in tariff,” said Ms Tager.
“In most states, retailers can get away with paying solar households nothing for the power they provide to the grid.
“This policy adds insult to injury by allowing those same retailers to benefit from ordinary solar households. Solar owners are already getting the short end of the stick – to let them do the legwork while retailers reap the rewards is absurd.”
Solar Citizens is also concerned about the low renewables benchmark that is set out in the NEG. Over 1,800 Solar Citizens supporters have sent emails to the federal, state and territory governments calling for a national plan that supports clean, renewable power with storage.
In response to: “To ensure that the emissions reduction requirement remains technology neutral, all existing embedded generation and behind the meter consumption will be added to a retailer’s load but will also be automatically allotted to the relevant retailer for calculating their emissions.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
Renters, low-income households and apartment dwellers are sweltering through Sydney's heatwaves because of barriers to accessing cost-cutting rooftop solar says community group Solar Citizens.
“When the heat rises, many households rely on producing their own cheap solar power to afford to run their air conditioners,” says Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner with Solar Citizens.
Western Sydney local Eithandee Aung is one renter who uses air conditioning sparingly due to the high cost of electricity. “Even though I did my research before choosing a retailer, I still cringe every time I turn on my air conditioner because I’m worried about my next electricity bill,” says Ms Aung.
“I don’t turn on the air conditioner unless the temperatures become unbearable, like the 40 degrees we felt on Sunday.
“Without a doubt I would prefer to live in a house with solar so that I could have more control over my bills, but as a tenant I’m not in the position to put it on myself.”
There are many steps that the NSW Government can take to make sure that everyone can access clean, affordable solar according to Ms Tager.
“Rooftop solar could and should be accessible to everyone, and many barriers, including cost barriers, can be removed with sensible government initiatives”.
“Providing no-interest loans so that households can invest in solar and storage, as well as incentivising landlords to put on solar, are some of the steps that the government can take to help those struggling with their electricity bills.”
Another important step is to legislate a fair price for the clean power that solar owners feed back into the grid so that solar households don't get ripped off by the big retailers and have the certainty that they will get a fair price for their power.
“It's not just the individual households who benefit by going solar, the Solar Savings report commissioned by Solar Citizens showed that without the thousands of solar rooftops in NSW the wholesale price of power would have been 33-50% higher over a year-long period,” says Ms Tager.
“In just one year, solar helped save all NSW energy consumers a total of $2.2-3.3 billion.
“The NSW Government has an opportunity to help more people go solar, which will bring down the price for everyone.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
Solar Citizens has welcomed the news that South Australia will become home to the world’s biggest battery, again. SIMEC ZEN Energy will build a battery even bigger than the Tesla battery in Port Augusta to support its investment in large-scale solar in Whyalla after receiving a loan from the South Australian Government.
“The world’s biggest battery 2.0 shows that South Australia is a world leader in renewable energy and storage. While Federal politicians handed lumps of coal around parliament, South Australia has been using its leadership role to support practical solutions that will make our electricity cleaner, cheaper and more reliable,” Dan Spencer South Australian Campaigner with Solar Citizens said.
“Just in the last year South Australia has attracted the country’s first battery manufacturer, broken world records for new large battery technology and secured the world’s largest solar thermal tower with storage to be built in Port Augusta. All of these projects mean new jobs for South Australia,” Mr Spencer said.
“South Australians are proud that we lead the way and no matter what the result on Saturday it’s clear that the Federal Government’s attempt to slam the brakes on clean energy in South Australia was doomed to fail. In the 21st century, if you back technology from the 1950s over smarter, cleaner 21st century technology you are bound to lose,” Mr Spencer said.
“With one day till polling day, only Steven Marshall opposes keeping a strong South Australian renewable energy target. Mr Marshall has 24 hours to turn his no into yes and back the South Australian community who know that renewables and storage is the surest way to reduce power prices and cut pollution,” Mr Spencer said.
For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632
South Australia has been at the centre of Australia’s energy debate with the Federal Government attempting to use South Australia’s leadership in renewable energy to slow down the transition to renewable energy in other states.
“The proof is in the pudding. South Australia’s high levels of renewable energy did not impact South Australia’s ability to keep the lights on over summer,” Dan Spencer South Australian Campaigner with Solar Citizens said.
“Almost 46% of South Australia’s electricity consumption came from our abundant wind and sun over summer, while the government-owned diesel generators weren’t needed and the net draw on the Victorian interconnector was minimal,” Mr Spencer said.
“The Federal Government has tried to use South Australia as a proxy war to hold back other states setting strong renewable energy targets but the data shows they’ve misfired,” Mr Spencer said.
Solar Citizens says South Australia continuing to invest in renewable energy and storage will reduce power bills over time.“As South Australia continues to build more renewable energy and storage people will have more control over their power bills.
“Building solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta and the world’s biggest virtual power plant starting on housing trust rooftops are two examples of renewable and storage projects that are predicted to bring bills down for the whole community,” Mr Spencer said.
Solar Citizens is urging South Australian Liberal Leader to drop his opposition to South Australia’s renewable energy target.
“Steven Marshall admitted on radio on Monday that powering South Australia with 75% renewable energy was achievable. It’s time for the South Australian Liberals to drop their ideological opposition to South Australia’s renewable energy target,” Mr Spencer said.
For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632
Weatherill backs low-cost renewable future for SA with 75% renewable target and Australia’s first storage target
Solar Citizens has welcomed Premier Jay Weatherill’s commitment to increasing South Australia’s renewable energy target to 75% by 2025 and implement Australia’s first renewable storage target if re-elected on March 17.
“Building more solar, wind and storage is the cleanest and lowest cost way to power South Australian homes and businesses. It’s fantastic that Premier Weatherill has committed to increasing South Australia’s renewable target and funding Australia’s first renewable storage target,” Dan Spencer South Australian campaigner with Solar Citizens said.
“Projects like Port Augusta’s solar thermal plant and the world’s biggest virtual power plant starting on housing trust homes put this target well within reach and importantly, it’s being backed up with targeted funding to achieve it,” Mr Spencer said.
Solar Citizens has been calling on all political parties to commit to increasing South Australia’s renewable target ahead of the South Australian election. So far, The Greens and Labor have committed to increasing the renewable target.
“Premier Weatherill’s commitment to increasing South Australia’s renewable energy target will be welcome news to the majority of South Australians who want to see the state’s abundant sun and wind harnessed with 21st century renewable technology,” Mr Spencer said.
“We’re urging Steven Marshall to drop the Liberal Party’s thoughtless plan to scrap South Australia’s renewable target,” Mr Spencer said.
For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632
A new solar milestone has been reached in Australia with 1.8 million households and businesses now generating their own clean power from rooftop solar says community group Solar Citizens.
"Rooftop solar is getting more and more popular across Australia with many people turning to solar to take back control of their spiralling power bills," says Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
Ian Fletcher is one Sydney local who depends on cost-cutting solar to beat the heat in summer.
“I decided to get solar after the cost of electricity went up 30 per cent,” says retired homeowner Ian Fletcher.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that solar saves on power bills. My latest bill was $7.91.”
Ian credits the savings that he’s made with solar for being able to afford to run his air conditioning unit at night.
“I can sleep at night because my solar allows me to run the air conditioning unit in my bedroom. How else can you sleep in 30 degrees?”
Although, Ian concedes that he was lucky to be able to afford the upfront costs. “I think everyone would like to have solar, though how is a low-income person supposed to afford a solar system? What about elderly people? Some pensioners can’t afford it.”
Solar Citizens is calling on all Governments to do more to enable low-income households, apartment dwellers and renters to access the benefits of solar.
“There are simple steps Governments can take to boost access to solar, like no interest loans, incentives for landlords and rolling out solar panels on public housing stock,” said Ms Tager.
“Helping more households go solar won’t just benefit individual power bills – our Solar Savings report showed that rooftop solar benefits all energy consumers by reducing peak grid demand.”
“Our report found that without small-scale solar pumping out clean power, the wholesale price of power in NSW would have been 33-50% higher, which works out to a saving of between $2.2-3.3 billion in one year alone.”
“Government policies that help more households go solar bring power prices down for everyone.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006