Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

Australian investment in large-scale solar falling behind, while rooftop installs power ahead

The Abbott government’s attack on renewable energy has contributed to investment in large-scale renewable energy projects in Australia stalling at one-third of what is needed to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Target, as revealed in new figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

While investors have been left with uncertainty over funding large-scale renewables, everyday Australian households are making an investment in rooftop solar as a way of reducing their electricity bills, according to Solar Citizens Campaigns Director, Dan Scaysbrook.

“More than one in five homes are powered by the sun. These people have made the sensible decision to invest in rooftop solar as a great way to reduce their power bills and generate cleaner energy,” Mr Scaysbrook said.

“The Australian community believes in solar and renewables as the energy of the future and believes it can power a robust and thriving economy.

“Australians want political leadership that can deliver cleaner, cheaper energy from solar.

“They want obstacles to further investment in household solar removed including an end to unfair solar taxes and the stopping of attempts by the big power companies to hold back battery storage.

“Polling tells us the majority of Australians also want increased investment in large-scale renewable energy projects.

“Solar is also the preferred energy source of more than 80 per cent of Australians, according to 2015 research by The Climate Institute.

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

“Growing renewable energy will grow thousands of jobs, lower power bills for Australian families and create a better future for our children,” he said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Win for SA solar: Court rejects 'solar tax'

The Federal Court has today ruled in favour of South Australia’s solar households, supporting the Australian Energy Regulator’s decision to stop SA Power Networks gouging solar rooftop owners.

Justice Mansfield dismissed the appeal from SAPN against the AER’s earlier decision to disallow the introduction of a new, higher tariff on solar owners. Solar Citizens supported the Total Environment Centre’s intervention in the case.

Solar Citizens Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner said South Australians clearly love solar and expect that they won’t be subjected to unfair charges.

“This court decision today protects solar homeowners from South Australian Power Networks trying to push unfair fees onto the solar community by any means possible,” Turner said.

“It’s a sensible outcome to stop SA Power Networks from charging solar households an average of $100 per year. South Australia is home to more than 190,000 solar homes with more families going solar every day.”

“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. The main reason these families go solar is to help with the rising cost of power bills.”

"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.”

Mark Byrne, energy market advocate at the Total Environment Centre, explained that “This Federal Court decision places all electricity networks across Australia on notice that they cannot unfairly charge solar households more to cover the cost of their poor planning for a changing electricity network.”

Reece Turner from Solar Citizens is available for interview on 0450 466 040
Mark Byrne from TEC is available for interview on 0403070442.

ACT leaders urged to stay ahead on energy innovation, public transport and renewables


11.00AM. THURS, 17 DEC 2015


A television advertisement launched today calls on the ACT’s major party leaders to put aside politics and support policies that have put the Territory at the forefront of clean energy, public transport and climate action.

The ‘Go ACT’ advertisement features six ACT locals speaking in support of renewable energy, divestment from fossil fuels and light rail.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens said, ‘The ACT’s suite of policies put the Territory at the head of the race to 100% renewable power in Australia. Strong support for solar has meant that more than 16,000 households are saving on their bills with solar PV systems. Polls consistently show that eight in ten people here and around Australia support clean energy.’

Miriam Lyons, GetUp’s Clean Energy Campaigner said, ‘The ACT is leading the country when it comes to reducing pollution and energy innovation. Voters in the ACT want their city to keep a positive agenda investing in renewables and public transport. Political leaders must commit to protecting these big, long-term decisions that are preparing a growing ACT to thrive in a clean energy future.’

Andy Jennings, President of Fair Go for Canberra said, ‘All political parties should embrace these important and widely supported policies. This will send a signal to Canberrans that these positive, responsible policies have the rock-solid support of all sides of politics. The public are sick of games and negativity.’

The ACT policies which the groups highlight in the advertisement are

  • Purchasing 100% renewable power for the ACT by 2025

  • Divestment of ACT Government shareholdings in 60 major fossil fuel companies

  • Major public transport infrastructure investment in light rail

  • Investment in bike paths

Solar Citizens, GetUp and Fair Go for Canberra have jointly produced the advertisement, which begins airing today on PRIME and WIN and will also be run on Facebook and other websites up to Christmas.

The three groups will today hand deliver letters to Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson and ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, requesting a meeting in the new year to discuss the policy platforms the parties will put to ACT voters at the election. The ACT election will be held on 15 October 2016, in the same year as the next federal election.

The advertisement can be viewed at: 

Contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404

Australia must supercharge renewable energy future: New CEFC mandate welcome

The landmark Paris agreement and the new mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation will turbo charge the transition to renewable energy and solar and make clean energy an integral part of the Australian economy.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said a shift towards a zero-carbon energy system would fuel demand for solar over the coming decade.

“This new global deal sends a clear long-term signal to business and investors that our future economies will be fuelled by renewables and solar,” she said.

“What makes Paris significant is the unprecedented global momentum shown for a move towards renewable energy. This includes scores of the world’s largest brands and cities across the world committing to 100% renewable energy for all their power needs.

“Now it’s up to Prime Minister Turnbull and his government to prepare for the change ahead and fast-track the energy transition.

Ms O’Rourke said the reported new mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to include innovative renewable technologies such as large scale solar and storage was welcome news for Australian families looking to benefit from clean, renewable sources of power.

“Australia needs urgent action to unwind the damage done during the Abbott years and give investors the certainty needed for backing solar, from families installing rooftop systems and batteries to large-scale solar.

“Australia has more than 1.4 million homes powered by the sun and already enjoying the cost savings of generating their own clean energy. Solar is also the preferred energy source of more than 80 per cent of Australians, according to 2015 research by The Climate Institute.

“Right now, we can harness Australia’s bountiful clean energy resources to power our country, create jobs, generate investment and ensure a safe, clean future for our children and grandchildren,” she said.

Claire O’Rourke available for interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533


Solar Citizens has congratulated the ACT Government and Byron Shire Council for becoming the first Australian regions to join an international network of cities and regions aiming for 100 per cent renewable energy.

The move comes less than a day after some of the world’s leading brands, including the BMW Group and Coca-Cola, announced that they will source 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable energy such as solar.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said the community loves solar and is ready for more Australian cities and regions to follow the example set by the ACT and Byron Shire.

“The ACT and Byron Shire are showing our nation and the world that more renewable energy can create a clean, safe future for all of us - with the bonus of local jobs and investment,” she said.

“Renewable energy gives us so much potential to innovate and it also helps families to take control of their power bills.

“The community is ready for a 100 per cent renewable future. A recent poll by the Australian Institute showed three in four Canberrans surveyed (78 per cent) support the territory’s 100 per cent renewables target.

“The same poll also found almost three in four Australians from outside of Canberra (72 per cent) said they wanted a similar policy in their home state.

“Solar and renewables are here now, ready for all levels of government to facilitate the clean energy future Australians want to see. Australia is one of the sunniest countries on earth and we have the technology and expertise to make the most of it - all it takes is the political will to get renewables moving.

“Australians want our government to be leading the pack and investing in more renewable energy, not less,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533


Some of the world’s largest brands including the BMW Group and Coca-Cola have announced at the Paris climate talks that they will source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy such as solar.

They take the total number of 100% renewables companies (RE100) to 53, joining diverse brands including Microsoft and Google that have committed in the past week.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said global brands were leading the way in proving 100% clean energy is possible now and makes good sense for both the environment and the budget.

“It is exciting to have massive, mainstream organisations such as Coca-Cola, BMW and IKEA jump on board with the global trend and commit to powering their business by 100% renewable energy,” she said.

“A growing number of companies are ready to play their part in accelerating the world’s move to renewables. Will the Australian government follow their lead?

“If the Turnbull Government is serious about making job creation and innovation their top priority then they need to look no further than solar and renewables.

“The fast-growing renewable energy industry is living up to its potential as a worldwide jobs growth powerhouse - Australia cannot risk missing out.

“Large companies can clearly see a future powered by 100% renewable energy. If our politicians and governments don’t get on board with the revolution they face a very tangible risk of being left in the shade,” said Ms O’Rourke.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Plans for WA ‘sun tax’ condemned by Solar Citizens

Western Australia’s more than 191,000 solar homeowners are angered by a plan from the State-owned electricity provider Synergy to slug solar rooftop owners with an unfair ‘sun tax’.

Solar Citizens Consumer Campaigner, Reece Turner, said the discriminatory charge would hit Western Australian solar homeowners hard and risks holding back investment in cheaper, clean energy.

“Premier Colin Barnett should immediately rule out the idea of a ‘sun tax’ as proposed by Synergy,” he said.

Lyndon Rowe, the Chair of Synergy, has today proposed changes to electricity pricing in West Australia that would mean higher consumers would pay more but would also see solar rooftop owners charged an extra fixed fee in their electricity bill.

“Solar Citizens welcomes efforts to ensure that electricity users are encouraged to use power sensibly but targeting solar households is not the way to go. It’s a ludicrous idea that Premier Barnett should step in and rule out immediately,”

“More than one in five homes are powered by the sun. These people have made the sensible decision to invest in clean, abundant energy and should not be penalised”, Turner said.

“Synergy is looking for a scapegoat to cover up for it’s spiralling budget losses. The reality is that the Government has over invested in electricity generation and network capacity (sometimes called ‘gold plating’) at a time when demand for electricity has been falling. There are estimates that over-investment in West Australia’s electricity system was $3.85bn in 2011-12 alone(1). This cost is ultimately borne by customers”

“There have been good initiatives made by the WA Govt and Synergy recently such as investing in and piloting battery storage and reducing red tape for residences to install their own battery storage.

“ We have seen Similar proposals in South Australia and New South Wales but following public outcry in both cases these charges have been ruled out. The ‘sun tax’ proposal should be binned by Premier Barnett before the ink is dry”, concluded Turner

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004

(1) The Sorry State of WA’s Electricity Market Reform, Adam McHugh, The Conversation October 2012


More than 1.4 million homes across Australia will celebrate the start of Summer today and the peak cost savings on their electricity bill from generating energy from their rooftop during the sunniest months of the year.


Solar Citizens in South Australia have been left disappointed that local member Christopher Pyne refused to take the Stand Up For Solar pledge in a recent meeting.

Solar Citizens members met with one of Mr Pyne’s advisers to talk about how solar was reducing their power bills and asked him for a commitment to:
a national goal of at least 50% renewable energy by 2030;
a fair go for solar owners, including a fair feed-in tariff, no discriminatory fees and a specialist solar ombudsman; and
a national program to help low-income households and renters with soaring power bills to go solar.

After the meeting residents have again contacted the Minister’s office to seek this commitment, however Minister Pyne has failed to commit to a renewable energy goal of at least 50 per cent by 2030.

On Friday, Mr Pyne attacked Opposition leader Bill Shorten's decision to float a possible 45 per cent cut in Australia’s carbon emissions by 2030 as a move that would “smash household budgets and smash the economy”.

“Minister Pyne has chosen to bury his head in the sand on the reality of renewable energy,” said Dan Scaysbrook, Campaigns Director at Solar Citizens.

“It’s disappointing that Minister Pyne has refused to champion the sun powered future the majority of Australians support.

“Everyday community members in his own electorate of Sturt have chosen to invest in rooftop solar as a great way to reduce their power bills and generate cleaner energy.

“The Federal Liberal National Party should, at the very least, match Federal Labor’s commitment to a goal of at least 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Solar Citizens is calling on Mr Pyne and all LNP members to support this goal.

“As a local member Mr Pyne should be supporting the 12,909 solar homes in his electorate by championing this renewable energy goal - a goal the Australian community actively favours.

“Renewable energy for Australia will create a better future for our children, grow thousands of jobs, lower power bills for Australian families and help them generate clean energy from the sun.

“Over coming months, solar homeowners will be meeting with their local members and asking them to sign the Stand Up For Solar pledge. It’s time their political leaders supported the community and ensured a bright future for solar,” he said.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004


Solar Citizens has welcomed media reports that Malcolm Turnbull has signed-up to a multi-billion dollar global innovation plan that would double government investment in clean energy research and development over the next five years.

The initiative would be a strong stride forward for solar and renewable energy in Australia and send a strong signal to investors that the Abbott era attacks on renewable energy were over, according to Campaigns Director Dan Scaysbrook.

“A doubling of government investment in clean energy could fast-track our place in the global renewable energy boom,” he said today.

“While these reports are positive it needs to be attached to a strong domestic renewables policy that reflects community attitudes towards renewables”

“A recent Essential Research poll found 65% of Australians approve of a national target of generating at least 50% of Australia’s power from renewable energy by 2030, while only 16% disapprove.

“More than 1.4 million Australians have invested in rooftop solar and enjoy the clean energy and cost savings it generates. Because of their investment Australia is leading the world when it comes to solar generating clean and affordable energy.

“Australians want political leadership that can deliver cleaner, cheaper energy from solar. They have been promised a new era of support for renewables energy such as solar and now they want urgent action,” he said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia  0434 489 533