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Renewable-Powered Trains a Welcome Step on the Road to Clean Transport

11 June 2021: Renewable-Powered Trains a Welcome Step on the Road to Clean Transport

The NSW Government has today announced that the state’s train network will be powered with renewable energy by 2025, a move welcomed by community group Solar Citizens. 

“Powering transport with cheap renewables is a clean energy trifecta: it’s good news for the climate and the health of our communities, and it stimulates demand for more solar and wind projects to come online,” said Hannah Mitchell, Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“We know that strong action is needed to slash Australia’s transport pollution because it’s harmful to our health and is a major driver of climate change.

“Today’s announcement shows real leadership, but it’s also just the first step on the road to slashing pollution from the transport sector.

“We’d like to see the NSW government now go up a gear and accelerate the switch to electric vehicles. 

“Electric vehicles don’t produce any harmful pollution and they can provide valuable grid services by soaking up excess solar energy during the day.

“Australia has lagged behind the rest of the world on electric vehicles, but now we’re starting to see states like the ACT and Victoria step up to provide incentives for their uptake. 

“It’s encouraging to hear that Transport Minister Andrew Constance’s vision is for all vehicles to be electric. To make that vision become a reality the NSW Government now needs to put in place policies to make cleaner cars more affordable and accessible for everyone.”


Media contact: Hannah Mitchell 0427 036 182

$2 Billion Windfall for Publicly-Owned Renewables Celebrated

10 June 2021: $2 Billion Windfall for Publicly-Owned Renewables Celebrated

Today the Queensland government has announced $2 billion for government-owned corporations to build, own and operate new renewable energy and storage projects, a move that is celebrated by community group Solar Citizens.

The Electrical Trades Union, Queensland Community Alliance and Solar Citizens have all been campaigning for additional funding for publicly-owned renewable energy before the upcoming State budget. The $2 billion has been allocated to the Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund.

“The Queensland government has listened to the community and is acting on their commitment to keep the majority of Queensland’s electricity supply in public hands,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director at Solar Citizens.

“This $2 billion in funding will benefit all Queenslanders by helping to drive down the cost of electricity while ensuring that state-owned energy assets keep delivering returns to Queenslanders for decades to come.

“Right now we’re seeing Queensland’s coal power stations struggling to remain profitable as more cheap renewables come online, so the smartest thing the State government can do is diversify and invest in the next generation of energy.

“Investing in clean energy storage, like battery storage, pumped hydro and renewable hydrogen, can create thousands of regional jobs and unlock cheap solar energy at all hours of the day.

“More storage will also ease congestion on the grid so that Queenslanders can keep installing record rates of rooftop solar on their homes and businesses.

“The Queensland government has demonstrated with this announcement that they’re thinking ahead and planning for a prosperous future for Queenslanders.”

A new analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens found that replacing Queensland’s 7.2GW of state-owned coal generation with 100% renewable energy would require 7.1GW of solar PV and 10.1GW of wind capacity as well as 4GW/ 103GWh of supporting energy storage.

$2 billion in funding is enough to build approximately:


  • 1,700MW of new large-scale solar; or
  • 1,140MW of new wind; or
  • 860MW of new pumped hydro



Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694 

Ellen is available in Townsville today to make comment.  

Victoria Stands Strong Against the Sun Tax as Other States Sit on the Fence

9 June 2021: Victoria Stands Strong Against the Sun Tax as Other States Sit on the Fence

The Victorian government has doubled down on their opposition to the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) proposal to allow solar export charging, saying that enabling export pricing is not justified at this time. 

In a new submission to the AEMC, the Victorian government requests that state and territory governments get the final say before solar owners can be charged in their jurisdictions. 

In their submission, the Victorian government goes further by saying, “It is not clear why a charge that dissuades export of low-cost clean energy will deliver a net positive outcome for consumers.”

“We’ve seen Victoria, Queensland and now New South Wales indicate that they don’t want to see Australia’s solar homes and businesses slogged, but we’re yet to hear a clear position from Tasmania and South Australia,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“This proposal by the AEMC is shaping up to be a nightmare to implement. States will all have different rules and apparently consumers are meant to be charged differently depending on the time of day.

“How are consumers meant to keep up and respond to pricing signals? How are retailers going to pass on new network charges, when there’s no requirements outlined in the proposal? All of this is up in the air.

“It’s not clear at all how this complicated, and potentially costly, process of applying varying export charges will work in practice.”

Earlier this week Matt Kean told the AAP, “I don't want to see NSW households who have installed rooftop solar in good faith unfairly penalised”.

Queensland’s Energy Minister Mick de Brenni also shared his concerns with the AAP, saying, “these draft rules were proposed by a privatised network in South Australia to clean up a mess that was created by mismanaged private networks”.

He went on to say the new rules “could see a charge slapped on any household who wants to export their solar power into the grid”.

In Tasmania’s submission to the AEMC, they also supported a flexible approach that would allow jurisdictions to apply the National Electricity Market rules differently. 


Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694
Submissions are available on the AEMC website here.

Solar Citizens Welcomes Borumba Hydro Feasibility Announcement

8 June: Solar Citizens welcomes Borumba Hydro feasibility announcement

Solar Citizens today celebrates the Queensland government’s announcement that they’ll be investigating new pumped hydro in Queensland at the Borumba dam. 

The community group says investing in pumped hydro is essential as the grid transitions. 

“Investing in clean energy storage like pumped hydro is kicking the energy transition into the next gear – it means we can utilise cheap solar energy all day and night,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“Queenslanders are world leaders in the uptake of rooftop solar, but we’re starting to see cheap solar energy going to waste during certain times of the year because it’s not all getting used.

“Renewable storage options like pumped hydro and big batteries are smart investments that soak up excess solar energy during the day, making the most of cheap solar energy and ensuring grid stability.

“Diversifying Queensland’s energy assets is exactly what energy experts have been calling for in the wake of the Callide C coal-fired power station fire.

“We look forward to a full assessment of the project’s environmental impacts.”


Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Plan to Charge Solar Homes Splits States, Disliked by Consumers

7 June 2021: Plan to Charge Solar Homes Splits States, Disliked by Consumers

A plan to charge homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels has received push back from state governments and now consumers, with a new poll showing 57 per cent of people disagreed with the proposal even if they don’t have solar panels themselves. 

The proposal put forward by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) would allow homes and businesses with solar to be charged for putting their excess solar energy into the grid. 

Both the Victorian and Queensland governments have signalled they don’t support the plan that would affect the hip pockets of millions of Australian households, but other state governments like New South Wales haven’t yet made their position clear. 

“We’ve just commissioned polling in New South Wales that shows a staggering 59.2 per cent of people who want to install solar would be less likely to if this charge is allowed to go through,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director of Solar Citizens.

A representative sample of over 1,000 NSW residents were polled, 53.7 per cent of whom didn’t have solar.

Of those polled, 43.7 per cent said they’d be more likely to vote for a political party that opposes the plan to charge solar households, with 33.3 per cent saying their vote wouldn’t change.

“The New South Wales government is an influential state and they have a lot of power to make this ‘sun tax’ go away if they follow in the footsteps of Victoria and Queensland. It’s important that they make their position clear,” said Ms Roberts.

“Australia is a world leader in household solar and it’s these millions of Aussies that are doing the heavy lifting and substantially cutting Australia’s pollution.

“We want to see the small-scale solar industry continue to thrive because cheap solar energy is driving down electricity prices for everyone while powering a cleaner energy system.

“We fear once these charges are in place they’ll derail Australia’s uptake of clean solar energy.”

In a previous submission to the AEMC the Victorian government said, “The Victorian Government does not support export charging, as the case for implementing this element of the proposed reforms has not been demonstrated at this time.”

Queensland’s Energy Minister Mick de Brenni told the Brisbane Times, “My department is preparing a response to the proposal and I expect it will indicate that system-wide measures, especially investment in more storage, will encourage more solar and are preferable to the proposed rule change.

The AEMC is expected to make an announcement of their decision in July. 


Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Solar Industry, Solar Consumers and Independent Experts Warn of NEM Fragmentation if Solar Exports Rule Change Goes Ahead

3 June 2021: Solar Industry, Solar Consumers and Independent Experts Warn of NEM Fragmentation if Solar Exports Rule Change Goes Ahead 

A proposal to charge solar homes and businesses for exporting their excess energy to the grid has been opposed in a joint submission by key stakeholder groups, including the Smart Energy Council, the Australia Institute and Solar Citizens. 

The joint submission to the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) was also signed by Professor Bruce Mountain of the Victorian Energy Policy Centre and innovative solar sector leaders Alex Georgiou, CEO of ShineHub, Dr. Mike Wishart, CEO of EcoJoule Energy and David Hiley, Director of WATTever.

“Allowing network companies to charge solar owners for exporting their clean energy is a big call and we have not been presented with anywhere near enough evidence to show that it’s required,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director at Solar Citizens.

"States like Queensland and Victoria have signalled they don’t support export charging, so if this rule change goes ahead we’re likely to see a piecemeal and messy application across the National Electricity Market. 

“There are, however, some really important parts to the AEMC’s proposal. We support it being formally recognised that networks provide an export service, and there absolutely needs to be increased transparency around when static zero export limits are being imposed on solar customers. 

“We need to make sure that network companies are embracing solar exports and exploring all options for increasing the grid’s hosting capacity.”

In the submission it’s argued that the proposal by the AEMC might not even reduce the network costs paid by non-solar customers, as is intended. There are no requirements in the rule change proposal for how electricity retailers pass on additional network costs to consumers. 

The submission states that in Queensland, Distribution Network Service Providers Energex already charge solar customers extra, but in many cases, this charge is passed on to non-solar customers by retailers. 

“The growth of rooftop solar has been the most constant national success story in energy and climate in Australia. This rule change will undermine that progress and put in place a messy regime that might not even be implemented uniformly across states,” said Dan Cass, Energy Regulatory Lead at the Australia Institute. 

“There is a huge amount of value in household PV, batteries, electric vehicles, demand response and other distributed energy resources. What is needed now is a clear roadmap from the Energy Security Board for DER integration and economic regulation.”

The submission calls for trials of clean technology to be expedited and used to inform market design work. “Inverters with dynamic operating envelope capabilities, smart electric vehicle chargers and community batteries are smarter solutions to DER integration than export charges,” it states. 

Submissions to the AEMC have now closed. Over 1,300 solar citizens lodged a submission to oppose the introduction of export charging. 

The AEMC is expected to make the final determination in July. 


Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694 

The full submission can be read here.

Victoria's EV Tax Keeps One Foot on the Brake

25th May 2021: Victoria’s EV Tax Keeps One Foot on the Brake

The Victorian Government’s electric vehicle tax will keep Victoria in the slow lane on electric vehicles.

Legislation to introduce road user charges for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles passed today, a move that was condemned by community group Solar Citizens.

“Australia is already lagging behind on electric vehicles, and introducing this tax now will only slow down EV uptake even more, said Solar Citizens’ National Director, Ellen Roberts.

“Electric vehicles are the future: they can be powered with clean solar and wind power, and are cheaper to run and maintain.

“It’s disappointing that the Victorian Government has gone ahead with this premature tax, while the rest of the world is bringing down the costs of EVs to encourage people to make the switch.

“If the Government wants to reach its own target of net zero emissions by 2050 then 100% of vehicle sales need to be electric by 2035, but right now we’re at less than 1%.”

“We should be helping more people to afford cleaner, cheaper to run cars, not making them even more expensive.

“The Government took an important step forward by announcing a $3,000 subsidy and a 50% EV target, but this tax is a big step backwards.

“This EV tax will add up to $5,000 to the cost of an electric vehicle, at time when they’re still unaffordable for many Victorians”


For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

North Queensland gets Clean Energy Jobs Boost

21 May 2021: North Queensland gets Clean Energy Jobs Boost

The Queensland government has just announced the first stage of their Renewable Energy Zone roll out, a move that is celebrated by community group Solar Citizens. 

The Premier today announced the government would invest $40 million to upgrade transmission lines in Far North Queensland, creating 97 jobs for local workers and enabling projects like the Kaban Green Power Hub to proceed. 

“It’s wonderful to see the state government delivering on their pre-election commitments and driving new clean energy job opportunities in North and Far North Queensland,” said Stephanie Gray, Solar Citizens Energy Strategist. 

“This announcement comes just after federal Minister Keith Pitt intervened and stopped the Kaban wind and battery plant from getting federal funding.

“So far the Morrison government has failed to invest in future-proof clean energy jobs for Queenslanders, so it’s really great to see the state stepping up and filling that gap.

“North Queensland has incredible wind resources that blow in the afternoon and at night, making it very compatible with solar energy.

“Because of these incredible renewable energy resources, companies are looking to start manufacturing things locally to take advantage of this cheap energy.

“Just in Townsville alone there are several manufacturing proposals for products like renewable hydrogen and electric vehicle batteries, which will create good, long-term jobs.

“But we need about 3,000MW of new solar, wind and storage generation to come online in the north so these manufacturing projects can be competitively powered by cheap renewable energy.”


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Sun tax could trigger network ‘death spiral’

12 May 2021: Sun tax could trigger network ‘death spiral’

A survey of more than 1,300 Australian solar owners raises concerns about the possibility that a ‘death spiral’ could be triggered in the country’s largest electricity grid.

In response to the proposed introduction of a ‘sun tax’, which would see solar homes and businesses being charged for exporting clean electricity to the grid, community group Solar Citizens surveyed rooftop solar owners across the country to understand their response. 

A massive 63 per cent of those polled said that they would be more likely to go off grid if the sun tax is implemented, pointing to the possibility of a network ‘death spiral’.

A ‘death spiral’ is triggered when more and more households go off grid, resulting in higher network charges for customers remaining connected to the grid. This price hike can then in turn result in more households leaving the network, which causes the spiral to continue. 

The poll also found that 65 per cent of solar owners would consider changing their vote depending on the actions taken by their state government in response to the proposal.

“The results of our survey indicate that solar households are upset about the proposed sun tax and are willing to take matters into their own hands,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director at Solar Citizens. 

“It’s hardly surprising that solar owners are concerned. The big network companies are failing to manage grid voltage and now they want to pass the bill to everyday Australians.

“We know that grid voltages are too high even at night, so it’s time to stop blaming Australians who have made an investment in solar.

“Ninety five per cent of solar owners we polled didn’t support the sun tax, so it’s time for state governments to use their power and rule out these changes. “Already we’ve seen the Queensland and Victorian governments indicate they don’t support slugging solar households, so now we need to see states like New South Wales and South Australia also step up.”

This poll comes after the Australian Energy Market Commision (AEMC) released a draft determination proposing a rule change that will allow rooftop solar owners to be charged for exporting solar energy to the grid. The AEMC estimates that households across the National Electricity Market (NEM) will lose up to 8 per cent of their export income under the new rules.

State and territory governments in the NEM can choose to opt out of the rules. 

“It’s in the best interest of everyone for rooftop solar to keep thriving. Solar homes and businesses provide cheap local energy to the grid which drives down the wholesale price of electricity,” said Ms Roberts.


Summary of survey findings:

  • 63% said they’d consider going off grid if this rule change is implemented.

  • 95% were not in favour of the sun tax.

  • 65% said the way their state governments responded to this would influence their vote. 

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Queensland Minister Stands Strong for Solar

6 May 2021: Queensland Minister Stands Strong for Solar

Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni has today indicated that he doesn’t support a rule change from the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) that will allow solar owners to be charged for exporting clean energy to the grid. 

The announcement has been welcomed by community group Solar Citizens, who just released a report highlighting that the ‘sun tax’ would affect millions of people living in regional and outer suburban areas. 

“We congratulate the Queensland Government for joining Victoria in pushing back against this harmful proposal,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“The same state governments that have empowered households to make the solar switch are the ones that have the power to stop solar owners from being unfairly penalised now.”

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is considering a rule change that will allow rooftop solar owners to be charged for exporting solar energy to the grid. Workings from Professor Bruce Mountain from the Victoria Energy Policy Centre suggest the annual income from exporting solar electricity in Queensland could drop from an average of $292 per year to just $12 if the rule change is implemented.

“Here in Queensland the State Government has done a good job at encouraging households to install solar to drive down electricity bills and pollution. It’s great to see them continue to stand up for solar,” said Ms Roberts.

“With feed-in tariffs dropping, if the sun tax goes ahead it will be a double whammy for millions of Australia’s solar owners.

“Moving forward we’ll have to be smart about how we manage the electricity system so more households can make the solar switch, but rushing through a rule change that will slug solar households isn’t the solution.

“But if we want to see this proposal well and truly dropped by the AEMC, we need other states like NSW to follow Queensland and Victoria’s lead.”

The announcement from Energy Minister de Brenni comes as a new analysis from Solar Citizens demonstrates that Australia’s top solar postcodes and Local Government Areas tend to be in outer suburban and regional areas.

Australia’s top postcode for rooftop solar uptake is Bundaberg with close to 16,000 small-scale solar installations, followed by Mandurah in Western Australia and Hervey Bay also in Queensland, according to the analysis. 

Queensland now has a total of 770,000 solar installations across the state, which is by far the most of any Australian state or territory. New South Wales is a runner up with 660,000 installations. 

Queensland Postcodes with the Highest Number of Small-scale Solar Installations


Total number of installations


4670 - Bundaberg



4655 - Hervey Bay



4551 - Caloundra



4350 - Toowoomba 



4740 - Mackay 



4211 - Nerang



4207 - Beenleigh



4300 - Springfield



4510 - Caboolture



4570 - Gympie




Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Analysis available here.