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South Australians Turn to Solar Post Blackout

Solar PV installations surged at the end of last year following the statewide blackout with South Australians investing approximately 22.6 million dollars in rooftop solar from October to December last year according to new analysis of Clean Energy Regulator data by Solar Citizens.

Monthly solar installation rates jumped 17.65 per cent from October till December compared to installation rates from January till September. Installations from July till December 2016 jumped 21 per cent compared to the first six months of the year, which corresponds with price spikes experienced in South Australia in July. Since July 6,424 solar systems were installed taking South Australia to 205,068 solar systems installed across the state.

“South Australians are sending a clear message with their wallets that they see clean solar power as a key part of the solution to rising energy costs and power security while tackling climate change,” Dan Spencer, South Australia campaigner at Solar Citizens said.

“While politicians attacked South Australia’s clean energy leadership, South Australians took action at home, investing 22 million dollars of their own money into making our power cleaner and cheaper at a higher installation rate than before the September blackout,” Mr Spencer said.

“With solar and storage becoming cheaper and more affordable every day it’s no surprise that ordinary South Australians have looked to clean energy while South Australia’s power has been in the headlines.”

The top five suburbs for solar installation since the blackout were located in regional or outer suburban areas with incomes below the South Australian average according to Australian Tax Office data. The regional suburb of Waitpinga led the way followed closely by Smithfield Plains, Salisbury North, Angas Plains and Morphett Vale. This closely mirrors South Australia’s leading suburbs for total solar installations where three out of five suburbs have below average incomes and the suburbs of Aberfoyle Park and Sheidow Park sit just above the average income.

“Whether it’s in Salisbury or regional SA, South Australians are looking to solar for their power showing just how mainstream renewable energy has become in South Australia. South Australians from all walks of life are doing their bit to bring power bills down with clean energy, it’s time the Federal Government did the same,” Mr Spencer said.

The suburbs of Waitpinga, Smithfield Plains, Salisbury North, Angas Plains and Morphett Vale cut across both Liberal and Labor state electorates as well as the federal seat of Mayo held by the Nick Xenophon Team.

“The fact that South Australians are turning to solar power in increasing numbers sends a clear message to all political parties that South Australians want to see investment in clean solutions for our power, not the misleading and ideologically-driven attacks on renewable energy they’ve seen in recent weeks and months. There couldn’t be a clearer opinion poll than South Australians rolling up their sleeves and investing $22 million in clean energy,” he said.

Solar Citizens say with the costs of batteries continuing to fall South Australia’s 205,068 solar homes and businesses are perfectly placed to be a part of securing South Australia’s clean power supply with storage.

“Over 200,000 homes and businesses have now gone solar in SA and with batteries dropping in price South Australia can be powered with a mix of home solar and storage and the large renewable projects like solar thermal in Port Augusta, large scale battery storage and pumped hydro that are ready and waiting to be built in our state” Mr Spencer said.

Top stats:

  • South Australians invested approximately $22.6 million installing solar panels between October and December 2016 following the state’s September blackout and approximately $80.5 million across the 2016 calendar year (based on the average cost of a 5kW system in South Australia).
  • The top five solar installation suburbs after the September blackout in 2016 all had 2013/14 average incomes below the state average according to the Australian Tax Office.
  • Monthly installation rates of solar panels increased 17.5 percent from October till December 2016 compared installation rates before the September blackout.
  • Installation rates were up 21 percent between July and December 2016 compared to the first half of 2016 (January-June 2016).
  • 3,304 solar systems were installed in South Australia between October and December 2016, 6,424 systems were installed from July to December and 11,729 systems installed across 2016. South Australia now has 205,068 small scale solar systems installed across the state.

Top 5 suburbs for solar installation between October and December 2016

  • Waitpinga - average taxable income $40,045
  • Smithfield Plains - average taxable income $46,003
  • Salisbury North - average taxable income $42,297
  • Angas Plains - average taxable income $44,105
  • Morphett Vale - average taxable income $43,850

Top 5 suburbs by total solar installations in South Australia

  • Morphett Vale - average taxable income $43,850
  • Aberfoyle Park - average taxable income $50,243
  • Salisbury North - average taxable income $42,297
  • Sheidow Park - average taxable income $49,059
  • Smithfield Plains - average taxable income $46,003

Based on Australian Tax Office 2013/14 data, South Australia’s average taxable income in South Australia was $48,658.

Solar installation data from Clean Energy Regulator, 2017.

A full spreadsheet of the data is available here.

For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632

Victoria moves to instate a fairer price for solar exports

Solar Citizens has welcomed today’s announcement by the Victorian Essential Services Commission (ESC) to set a minimum rate for solar exports.

The rate to be paid from July 1 this year to households and businesses who feed power back into the grid from small renewable energy sources is set at 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

“It is encouraging to see a fairer price will be offered to the domestic producers of electricity from the middle of the year in Victoria,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“We have been campaigning for a fairer price for solar following some outrageous efforts by the big power companies to rip Australian solar producers off, it is encouraging to see that the Victorian Government and the ESC have sensibly decided to recognise the contribution that solar producers make.

“Solar owners are up against hugely powerful companies and corporations who are trying to make obscene profits from the solar they produce – solar owners want, and deserve, a fair go for the contribution they make to powering Australia.

“Solar Citizens congratulates the Victorian Government and the ESC for this decision, a decision that’s in the best interests of all consumers.

“We hope to see other regulatory bodies in Australia correcting the market failure that is seeing, in some states, solar producers being paid next to nothing for the power they produce,” said Tager.

In nearly all States and Territories a relatively low price of around 5-6c per unit is offered for rooftop solar electricity sold back to the grid. This is less than a quarter of the cost of electricity the retailer charges for electricity accessed from the grid.

“We are determined to see them follow the lead of Victoria and get a fair price for their solar – right across the country,” she said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E:

No leadership, certainty, plan or truth from Federal Government on renewables

The Federal government has failed to deliver any coherent plan for Australia’s 21st Century energy needs providing no leadership, certainty or truth on renewable energy - and this contagion is spreading through State Liberal parties.

“Today we see the South Australian Liberal Leader adopting the tactics of his Federal colleagues, misleading the public, chasing off investment in that State and putting politics well ahead of a plan or a policy,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“At the same time media reports indicate that the Federal Government were told, in no uncertain terms, that renewable energy was not the cause of a major blackout in South Australia in September, extreme weather was.

“The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have actively lied in interviews and statements since - all the facts were thrown overboard to suit their ideological and economically reckless positions on Australia’s future energy system.

“With the Federal government showing no plan for renewable energy beyond 2020, it has been up to State/Territory Governments including the ACT, South Australia, Queensland and most recently Victoria to plan their own renewable energy transitions,” said O’Rourke.

“And now, like a virus, the wreckers in opposition in several states are spouting the same nonsense, trying to undo these state based efforts - what an absolute disgrace.

“New analysis from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) today indicates unprecedented levels of new investment in large scale renewable energy projects now underway throughout Australia, despite all the efforts to talk the sector down.

More than 20 large renewable energy projects are either already under construction or will start this year, delivering an unprecedented program of works which will create almost 3,000 direct jobs and generate more than $5 billion of investment. The industry is expected to deliver approximately 2250 MW of new large-scale renewable energy in 2017, the most since the Snowy Hydro Scheme more than 50 years ago.

“These politicians at the State and Federal level should look in the face of investors, business owners and tradies involved in the renewable energy sector and explain their deceit.

“Renewable energy can, and will, absolutely replace ‘baseload’ power and provide a reliable source of electricity. What we need to do is get smarter about how we create and distribute energy.

“Part of this demands prioritising investment in ‘dispatchable’ renewables and storage systems like pumped hydro, solar thermal and batteries, which can be quickly deployed to provide power when necessary and costs are falling rapidly,” said O’Rourke.

“We need new rules to boost the uptake of distributed energy and storage like home solar and batteries and microgrids.

“What’s required is a fundamental rewrite of our energy laws in order to facilitate the transition to 100% renewable power.

“Consumers and business will be the winners from an energy system that’s safe, clean, reliable and affordable and that’s what renewables can and will deliver, no matter how loudly ideological politicians shout.”

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E:

Solar Schools Boom to Cut Pollution & Save Money

Solar Citizens has welcomed the South Australian Government’s $15 million investment in solar for forty schools across the state and energy efficiency upgrades for a further 200 schools today.

“Schools are hubs for local communities and installing solar arrays on forty schools will not only reduce pollution, school power bills and create jobs it will give students and local communities a taste of a future powered by clean energy” Dan Spencer South Australian Solar Citizens campaigner said.

“These forty schools will join the one in four South Australian homes leading the solar revolution”.

The rollout is expected to create 38 full time equivalent jobs and save more than $2 million dollars a year. Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last year across Australia there were 7480 jobs in solar PV.

“Solar means jobs for South Australians and this solar rollout will continue South Australia’s nation leading take-up of clean power” Mr Spencer said.

“While the Federal Government continues to play politics with energy it’s states like South Australia who are picking up the slack and driving Australia’s transition to clean power” Mr Spencer said.

Dan Spencer is available for comment at 11am 111 Franklin Street Adelaide

For media inquiries: Dan Spencer 0423 865 632

Victoria's new fairer feed-in tariffs - new laws just passed the State's parliament

In a positive move for Victoria’s energy sector and solar owners across the State, new laws for fairer feed in tariffs that recognise the environmental benefits of rooftop solar passed the Victorian Parliament last night.

“This is a really positive step in delivering a fair price for solar in Victoria and the Government should be applauded for making these changes law,” Shani Tager, Senior Solar Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“Yesterday’s change comes on the back of several recent Victorian Government announcements which position that state as a true renewable energy leader in this country.

“We congratulate the Minister responsible and the government of Victoria.

“These changes are a great step in recognising the true value of solar,” she said.

“If we want to encourage a smarter way of generating cheaper energy, we should be valuing solar electricity. Solar power, especially when coupled with battery storage, can provide the solution for higher electricity prices.”

**Shani Tager is available for comment

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E:

US Solar Census highlights boom while Australia dithers

Figures released overnight by the US Solar Foundation, as part of their annual National Solar Jobs Census, reveal a growth industry that employs twice as many people as the American coal industry.

“We shouldn't be surprised at these figures, but they should be a true wake up call to our leaders in Australia, the sunniest country on earth,” said Shani Tager, Senior Solar Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“These are some substantial numbers that once again reinforce the enormous employment and investment opportunities that solar power technology offers right around the world.

“This is what the solar revolution looks like and Australia really needs to up its game to make sure that we don't miss out on the bright opportunities of this boom.

“Right now, our national leaders seem to not just be asleep at the wheel on renewable energy policy, but contemplating flicking the switch to a polluting past,” said Tager.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in March last year, showed that in Australia there were 7480 jobs in solar pv, and 830 in large scale solar. The number of jobs in rooftop solar had collapsed from a previous high of around 14,300 jobs four years before.

The National Solar Jobs Census is the first and most authoritative US national benchmark for solar jobs research. It serves a critical role in understanding the impact of solar energy development in the United States.

First conducted in 2010, the US National Solar Jobs Census uses a rigorous, dual methodology to derive total solar employment figures, as well as important insights as reported by the thousands of employers who participate in data collection.

“It is startling to see that there are more solar workers in the US than people employed at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google combined.

“Solar technology is clearly where the future is,” she said.

This Census reveals that in 2016 there were 260,077 American jobs in solar, a 25% increase from 2015. Solar jobs grew 17 times faster than the overall economy in 2016, with 1 in 50 new jobs in 2016 being solar workers.

“The Solar Foundation’s data confirms that solar employs more than twice as many Americans as the entire coal industry and as many Americans as the natural gas industry.

“Investment in solar pv has been the backbone of the renewables revolution in Australia but we clearly need to urgently get our policy settings right so we don't miss the boom of investment and opportunities that other countries, like the US, are attracting,” said Ms Tager.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E:

Another Prime Minister parrots the same nonsense on renewables

Prime Minister Turnbull’s speech at the Press Club today is yet another in a long line of examples of how out of touch the Federal Government is on renewable energy policy.

“To anyone who has an eye on the future it was remarkable in its denial of facts and its refusal to recognise that the renewables revolution is here, and is being driven by state governments like South Australia in this country,” said Maria Cirillo, Deputy National Director, Solar Citizens.

“The Prime Minister has again failed on the basics, an astounding situation in 2017, when he says ‘the battlelines have been drawn - it is clear that the Coalition stands for cheaper energy’ he quite simply - does not get it.

“Solar drives down costs and is the future – storage of solar gives stability, reliability and security - the Prime Minister should stop listening to his supporters in the coal industry and start looking at the future - it is here, it is waving at us, and it is very, very attractive,” she said.

“The Prime Minister is out of touch, solar is the most popular energy source amongst Australians, and they want more of it, the speech shows he is determined to continue to mislead the Australian public on what is really driving up power prices.

“1.6 million households have already taken power back into their own hands by investing in clean solar on their own rooftops, more people are considering solar and storage for their homes than ever before, she said.

“We do note his apparent support for storage, but time will be the test of this support.

“The Prime Minister should support Australians in making the move, rather than focusing on outdated energy solutions and through his attack on state renewable targets, he again shows he is not across national energy issues.

“When he says ‘the next incarnation of our national energy policy should be technology agnostic - it’s security and cost that matter most, not how you deliver it. Policy should be “all of the above technologies” working together to deliver the trifecta of secure and affordable power while meeting our emission reduction commitments’ while simultaneously floating the illusory benefits of ‘clean’ coal and talking down the benefits of solar, we want to tell him clearly, he is dreaming.

“It seems the Prime Minister has again nailed his flag to the mast of the past,” she said.

“Any Prime Minister worth his salt in 2017, should be supporting the future in renewables and moving away from our dirty coal past,” she said.

“The Prime Minister has failed miserably today, we note that he uses the word ‘solar’ three times, ‘climate’ once but ‘coal’ eight times in this speech, such a shame,” Cirillo said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E:

VIC Government solar trams announcement another sign of a State for the future

Today’s announcement by the Victorian Government, giving the green light for a proposal to power Melbourne’s iconic tram network with solar, is yet more evidence of the leadership and future focus of the current Victorian administration.

“This is an incredibly exciting day for the renewable energy sector in Australia,” said Maria Cirillo, Deputy Director, Solar Citizens.

“There will be an open tender process carried out to build a brand new, large scale solar farm in regional Victoria to generate the electricity to power Melbourne’s tram network - with the intention for this to all be up and running within just two years.

“We congratulate the Minister and the government of Victoria and hope that other political leaders are watching this and thinking through how they too can join the solar revolution.

“Jobs in the regions, investment, emissions reductions - it’s hard to see how you could criticise such a step,” she said.

“The race is on, those who ignore or deny the fundamental economic shift that is upon is, will quite simply, be left behind.

“Today’s announcement comes on the back of several recent Victorian Government announcements which position that state as a true renewable energy leader in this country.

“The global investment boom in renewable energy is well underway and now is the time to refine our national energy policy settings to ensure Australia is best-placed to reap the economic and environmental benefits of the boom.

“It’s hard to find another sector that displays such real job prospects, innovation and a practical response to the challenge of diversifying and strengthening our economy.

“It is well past time for the Federal Government and other states and territories to all step up and follow Victoria’s lead,” said Cirillo.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E:

If you can’t stand the heat, install some solar panels

As Sydney and NSW sweat through another heat wave, Solar Citizens are reminding consumers and policymakers that the time is right to understand the network wide benefits of installing solar

With NSW in the midst of another full blown heat wave, many people will be looking at that angry sun and wondering why indeed we are not harvesting its power more, especially as NSW’s ageing, and polluting power infrastructure, groans under unprecedented demand.

“Our best advice is, if you can't stand the heat, or you can't even fathom the costs of running those air conditioners, then quite simply - install some solar panels,” said Maria Cirillo, Deputy National Director, Solar Citizens.

“It’s a message that consumers are hearing but our political leaders seem to be blocking out.

“Solar is most effective on hot, sunny days, right when the grid is groaning under the strain of demand - like today.

“Our State of Solar Report, released last year, revealed a detailed national evaluation of the benefits of Australia’s solar rooftop boom quantifying out-of-pocket investment, the jobs created, savings made on power bills and environmental benefits,”

“$7bn of out-of-pocket investment in rooftop solar pv, $4.4bn in bill savings and in terms of environmental benefits, 6 million tonnes of CO2 expected to be averted in 2016 alone.

“it is safe to assume that when we run the numbers this year, these figures will have ballooned further.

“investment in solar pv has been the backbone of the renewables revolution in Australia,” she said.

“Summer in the state of NSW is a great time to remind ourselves of this fact.

“The solar revolution is not a Sydney thing, it is a regional thing – and analysis of solar uptake in NSW (see below) is startlingly clear – out of the top ten electorates for solar uptake, all are regional, and 9 out of the ten are in Liberal or National held seats.

“That’s a lot of heat out there following the demise of the NSW FiT scheme.

“Australian political leaders need to understand just how much the average Australian themselves have committed of their own money to play a part in the transition of our power system. With 5 million Australians (or 1 in 5 voters) living under a solar roof, this is potent political constituency,” she said

“Solar producers are up against hugely powerful companies and corporations who are trying to make obscene profits from the energy they generate. Solar owners only want a fair go for the contribution they make to powering Australia and taking pressure off the grid, on these stinking hot days, we need to remind people of this,” said Cirillo.

“The people across NSW, farming the sun, while the cities, suburbs and streets swelter, are deserving a fair price for solar that recognises the true value sun power delivers to the community,” she said.

“The price paid to rooftop solar owners should be linked to the wholesale market. Solar is actually produced at peak times during hot days when the sun is shining and air-conditioners raise demand so it is inherently more valuable.

“We will be working tirelessly to ensure that in the year ahead, they get one – from Albury to Dubbo to Drummoyne,” she said.

If you can’t stand the heat, install some solar panels

*From: Aug 2016 data:

**Based on 2 voters per install

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E:

No matter what politicians and regulators claim, we need a fair price for solar - and we need it now

Solar Citizens believes that today’s decision by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) to remove the minimum price for solar exports is out of step with regulators nationally and shows an absolute lack of understanding in the South Australian electricity market - and a blatant disregard for solar owners - 197,500 households across the state.

“What we need right across the country is a real, fair dinkum price for solar that recognises all of the benefits that solar provides,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens.

“South Australia’s electricity companies will no longer be required to pay households with solar panels for the excess power generated by their rooftop units that they feed into the electricity grid.

“Tens of thousands of solar owners in South Australia will now be offered nothing for their excess solar sent to the grid and that is a loss for all electricity consumers in South Australia.

“The decision will affect the 197,500 households with solar in South Australia, particularly the 60,000 households that lost their 16c guaranteed price through the Solar Bonus Scheme earlier this year.

“The wealthy and powerful handful of companies who run power in the State will then on sell the power that these solar households produce at a premium, while the primary producer of that power makes nothing, zero.

“This is a clear demonstration of a broken market — an electricity market in desperate need of reform,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“Any rational examination of the rates on offer by the large retail electricity companies cannot escape the fact that only two of them are offering rates above the minimum rate.

“This market the big power companies operate in, and indeed seem to have huge influence over, is obviously broken and it clearly favours maintaining the market dominance of power producers of the past,” she said.

“All of these energy companies have deliberately designed their contracts to be complex and difficult for the ordinary consumer to discern which one is the best value overall eg - a higher feed-in tariff could be undermined by other features in the contract.

“Axing the regulated minimum price is an experiment on SA’s solar owners in an unregulated market where big power companies have disproportionate bargaining power - it’s an experiment that is destined to fail.

“ESCOSA itself has acknowledged that the Energy Made Easy website does not provide useful comparisons with contracts containing solar RFiTs properly and that it is very difficult to ascertain which contract offer is the best value for solar owners, or indeed any consumer.

“The commission said their decision was based on its view that the market structures that facilitate electricity retail competition are ‘sound’ and continued regulation of the Feed in Tariff might ‘inhibit competition’ in the future.

“Either the ESCOSA has a real lack of understanding in the South Australian electricity market or an incredibly short memory.

“It is the lack of competition in the South Australian electricity market that has been widely identified as a major reason behind recent wholesale price spikes.

“The decision by the ESCOSA ignores the huge value of rooftop solar in South Australia that has helped provide reliable, cheaper electricity and reduce the price of electricity for all South Australians,” she said.

“If we want to encourage a smarter way of generating cheaper energy, we should be valuing solar electricity. Solar power, especially when coupled with battery storage, can provide the solution for higher electricity prices.

“Both the Queensland and Victorian state governments have wide ranging and informed inquiries well underway that are actively examining what the fair price for solar power actually is, and what it’s broader benefits are, and what value these benefits represent.

“The Victorian Essential Services Commission found that solar owners deserve a higher rate because of the environmental benefits distributed solar brings to the state and has moved to set new minimum feed-in tariffs that will see solar producers receive a higher price at peak times.

“We note that ESCOSA in its determination reserves the right in the future to set a minimum price for solar under the SA Electricity Act and as such we call on ESCOSA to immediately investigate recognising the true environmental, network and social benefits that rooftop solar delivers to the community,” said Ms O’Rourke.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: