Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

New Scorecard launches: NSW’s solar future at stake in weekend poll

Solar Citizens have launched their 2015 NSW Election Solar Scorecard, so when the people of NSW head to the polls on Saturday they are able to “Vote 1 Sun”.

“Our Solar Scorecard lays out the key solar policy positions of the major parties, so that voters are able to make an informed choice this Saturday,” said Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke.

“The Greens and The Christian Democratic party showed the strongest commitment to supporting solar in the next term of government. Labor also submitted a positive plan in response to the solar policy questions we put to them.

“While the Liberal Party stated their commitment to a solar future in NSW, their responses to our questions lacked the policy detail to back that up. They refused to commit to a fair price for solar fed into the grid and did not rule out discriminatory fees for solar homeowners.”

“By not giving concrete commitments to protect and grow solar Liberal Party leader, Mike Baird, has missed a golden opportunity to help people take control of rising power bills.”

“There are currently almost 300,000 solar households in NSW - all parties would do well to remember this.”

“NSW can take a leading role in the solar revolution, but only if its political leaders listen to the majority of the voters who want a solar future.”

“Solar Citizens urges all candidates contesting the NSW election to put the support of households who want to benefit from solar front and centre in the final days before the poll.”

Claire O’Rourke is available for comment

Media contact: Amy Gordon  0410 631 404

 

Solar Citizens NSW election six policy asks:

1. NO DISCRIMINATORY SOLAR FEES

Does your party guarantee to prevent fees and charges which discriminate against solar owners and people installing storage systems?

2. A FAIR PRICE FOR SOLAR FED INTO THE GRID

There is currently no regulated minimum price that NSW solar owners are paid for the electricity produced by their solar system, fed into the grid and on-sold by their retailer. Individual solar households have little power to negotiate with retailers and many more solar households will be in this position after the Solar Bonus Scheme wraps up in 2016.

Does your party commit to setting a regulated minimum retailer-paid feed-in tariff, set at a fair level for consumers who generate power and feed it back into our state’s energy supply?

3. REVERSE AUCTION TO BOOST COMMUNITY & LARGE-SCALE SOLAR

Will your party commit to launching a reverse auction process to support community and large-scale solar projects (similar to the scheme that has proven so successful in the ACT*) to allow people who cannot put solar on their own rooftop to benefit from the renewable energy revolution?    

4.TRIAL SOLAR STORAGE - THE WAY OF THE FUTURE

Does your party commit to launching a trial of solar with storage - the next big thing - at a household level (in 1,000 NSW homes) and also at a neighbourhood level to test innovation of technology and business models that will allow solar to run day and night and help maintain our state’s energy supply?

5. ENSURE A SMARTER NSW POWER GRID

Does your party commit to ensure networks will take the necessary measures to accommodate more solar in the grid in the future, enable innovative elements like virtual net metering and peer-to-peer solar energy trading and other aspects of a smarter, decentralised grid?

6. STAND UP FOR NSW SOLAR JOBS – PROTECT THE RET

Will your party call on the Federal Government to drop its attempt to slash the 41,000 GWh national Renewable Energy Target, that supports thousands of NSW solar jobs, helps with the price of installation and lowers the wholesale price of power for all consumers, and instead to advocate for the expansion of the Target to at least 50% by 2030?

Solar Citizens welcome Senator Lazarus’ continued support for RET

Solar Citizens has welcomed news by Senator Glenn Lazarus that he has reaffirmed his support for a full 41,000 Gwh Renewable Energy Target (RET) 

A statement released by the Senator today confirmed he is strongly opposed to any attempt by the Abbott Government to reduce the RET. Senator Lazarus is also pushing both parties to aim for a higher Target.

“Senator Lazarus clearly understands the many benefits of solar and that Australians want more solar not less," said Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke.

"Senator Lazarus is keeping his promise to protect solar, renewable jobs and investment in Australia. 

“But the Government is breaking its word with their threats to wind back the RET - the result has deeply undermined the renewable energy industry.” 

“The Target is good for all Australians, whether they have rooftop solar or not. 

Cutting the RET will increase the cost of rooftop solar, making it harder for Australian households to take control of their power bills.”  

“In Senator Lazarus’ home state of Queensland alone, more than 400,000 solar households have already saved at least $213.6 million on power bills.

“Recent polling shows that the Target is hugely popular, with 89% of Australians wanting to keep the Target, including 64% of Liberal voters.”

“Australians are relying on Senators like Senator Lazarus to stay strong and save the Target from this deliberate attack from the Abbott Government that has caused enormous levels of harm to the renewable energy sector.” she said.

 

Claire O’Rourke is available for comment 

Media Contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404 

WA Government signals unfair attack on solar homes

Media reports today that WA Energy Minister Mike Nahan plans to charge solar householders higher fixed network charges are nothing but a discriminatory attack on solar households, according to Solar Citizens.

“Minister Nahan has unfairly blamed the state’s solar households for rising energy prices – he should immediately apologise and rule out any plans to slug them more for network charges,” Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said.

“The Minister is playing politics with households who have proved they can lower their electricity costs and produce clean energy with rooftop solar,” she said.

Reports today said the WA government was proposing to increase charges for all electricity users, but the effect of proposed changes could see solar households paying more.

“There are close to 175,000 homes with rooftop solar power installed in Western Australia - these proposed charges are a blatant attempt to raise revenue from the very people who have made the sensible choice to reduce their electricity demand,” Ms O’Rourke said.

"Similar discriminatory charges were considered by the Newman government in Queensland in 2013, and they experienced a significant voter backlash. 

“Governments who genuinely care about rising power prices should congratulate consumers who install solar power, not wage unfair attacks on families who are taking active steps to manage their household budget.

Media contact: Amy Gordon  0434 489 533

Labor’s renewable energy policy welcomed ahead of the NSW election

Solar Citizens has welcomed the announcement by Labor leader Luke Foley that if elected Labor will commit to stronger support of renewable energy and household solar.

Labor’s renewable energy policy promises:

  • Legislate a NSW 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020;

  • A $14 million renewable energy hub;

  • Protections for solar households and ensure a fair price for those who sell excess energy back to the grid;

  • Purchase electricity for NSW Government departments and agencies from renewable sources where possible.

Solar Citizens National Director, Claire O’Rourke, said the policy announcement from Labor today was significant for people in NSW who want to take control of their household power bills by going solar.

“More than 260,000 NSW homes have already installed solar power to cut their electricity bills.”

“Rooftop solar means cheaper power for homeowners, not just those who have solar. It also means new jobs and less polluting power generation.”

“In January, at least 550 solar homeowners told a Senate Inquiry they felt like they’ve been unfairly treated by the big energy companies, including being hit with unfair or hidden charges and increases in service charges after installing solar.

“The next State Government is responsible for protecting solar households from these types of discriminatory dealings, for securing a fair price for the clean energy they provide to the grid and for making sure solar and other renewable industries thrive in NSW.”

“This is a positive first step to protect solar households from unfair fees, ensure that household power bills come down and jobs in the renewable energy industry are created.”

 

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview


Media Contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404

PM’s captain’s call to harm renewable energy target hurts consumers

Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised at the last election to support solar energy and grow jobs in the industry, but it has now reneged on that promise under pressure from the big power companies, according to Solar Citizens. 

National Director Claire O’Rourke said the Abbott government went to the 2013 election promising to support the Renewable Energy Target but broke its word once elected, launching a ferocious attack on renewables that is already causing havoc to Australia’s industry and could leave it in ruins.

“Solar Citizens is calling on the Abbott Government to support the best interests of Australia’s electricity consumers by keeping its promise to support the Renewable Energy Target of 41,000 gigawatt target,” Ms O’Rourke said today.

“Abbott’s unprecedented attacks on renewable energy are creating investor uncertainty on renewables, holding back jobs and denying savings for all Australian electricity consumers, whether they have rooftop solar or not.

“The move to break this promise on renewable energy was a ‘captain’s call’ from the Prime Minister . It is a policy that hurts the average Australian and benefits only the big power companies. Multiple sets of modelling demonstrates that the Target works to bring down the wholesale price of power, helping families with their power bills.

“Abbott’s assault on solar and renewable energy risks losing more than 8,000 jobs and billions of dollars of investment in renewable energy, one of Australia’s most successful new industries.

“We call on the Federal Government to quickly restore jobs and growth in the renewables sector in Australia by calling off negotiations to water down the Target and showing it supports consumers by restoring its support for the full 41,000 gigawatt RET,” she said.

Media contact: Amy Gordon  0410 631 404

Abbott compromises power price savings for all Australians with ‘compromise’ on Renewable Energy Target

Solar Citizens today warned a push by the Abbott Government for a ‘compromise’ that will slash the Renewable Energy Target (RET) will lock in more expensive power prices for all Australians.



Solar Citizens Campaigns Director Taegen Edwards said the Government had ignored the advice of its own Warburton Review that found having rooftop solar power and renewables in the nation’s energy mix brings down power prices in the long-term.

“The Abbott Government’s broken promise on support for RET puts thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment at risk and ultimately pushes up power prices for everyone,” Ms Edwards said.

“The Target is good for all Australians, whether they have rooftop solar or not. Cutting the RET will increase the cost of rooftop solar, making it harder for Australian households to take control of their power bills.”

“Australians have a love affair with solar, with more than 1.3 million Australian homes generating power from the sun.”

“Recent polling shows that the Target is hugely popular, with 89% of Australians wanting to keep or strengthen the Target, including 64% of Liberal voters.”

“Last week Clean Energy Finance Corporation Chief Executive, Oliver Yates told a Senate Estimates committee that the Government had taken the industry back 12 years.”

“The clean energy industry is struggling with the uncertainty of the negotiations.”

“The Abbott Government can show that they’re in touch with the Australian public and the renewable energy industry by committing to the full 41,000 Gwh Target, “ Ms Edwards said.

Taegen Edwards is available for comment

Media Contact: Amy Gordon, 0410 631 404

Abbott’s attack on renewable energy holds back power cost savings and growth of industry

The Abbott Government’s continued attack on the Renewable Energy Target is a broken election promise that is destroying the renewable energy industry and holding back savings on household power bills, according to Solar Citizens.

Since being elected, Tony Abbott has waged a ferocious attack on renewables that is already harming the industry in Australia and could run it into the ground, Solar Citizens National Campaigns Director Taegen Edwards said today.

“Abbott’s backflip in support for solar energy puts thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment at risk and ultimately pushes up power prices for everyone,” she said.

“Business needs consistent policy to invest and householders need access to solar and other forms of renewable power to reduce their electricity bills.

“The move to break this promise on renewable energy was another bad ‘captain’s call’ from Abbott. It shows he is out of step with the community, many in his own party and other political leaders who want more, not less renewable energy in the country’s power mix.

“The Renewable Energy Target is extremely popular, with polls showing 89% of Australians want to keep or strengthen the Target, including 64% of self-identified Liberal voters. Prime Minister Abbott should be listening to the people rather than making decisions that only benefit the big power companies.

“Abbott’s assault on renewable energy risks losing more than 8,000 jobs and billions of dollars of investment in renewable energy, one of Australia’s most successful and promising new industries.

“We call on the Federal Government to restore jobs and growth in the renewables sector in Australia by restoring its support for the full 41,000 Gwh Target,” Ms Edwards said  

 

Taegen Edwards is available for comment


Media Contact: Amy Gordon 0421 367 175

Solar Citizens welcomes NSW Greens election commitments to rooftop solar and calls on all parties contesting election to support solar

Solar Citizens welcomes the NSW Greens’ renewable energy policy announcement and its commitment to support and grow household rooftop solar energy in the state.

The Green’s renewable energy plan includes setting up new public sector agencies that will give advice and financial support to help households and small businesses save money on electricity bills by making the shift to solar, with direct assistance to the low income and vulnerable.  

They have also committed to finance rooftop solar and to invest in a smart grid improving the ability of household and business owners to buy and sell the clean, solar energy produced on their rooftops.   

Solar Citizens Campaigns Director Taegen Edwards said more than 260,000 NSW households had already invested in rooftop solar as an effective way of reducing their power bills and the Green’s plan would help that number grow.

“The Greens are to be congratulated on their election commitment to making NSW a leader on renewable energy,” Ms Edwards said today.

“A study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems found solar power will be the cheapest form of energy for Australia within a decade. The cost of solar is predicted to fall to between AUD $0.05 and $0.15 per kilowatt hour by 2025.

Solar Citizens also welcomes the Greens support for state legislation to insulate NSW’s current and future renewable energy generators against any reduction in the federal government's Renewable Energy Target.

“We call on all parties contesting the NSW Election to take action in support of this clean, cost-effective energy source. NSW is lucky enough to have abundant solar resources and we should make the most of it to power our homes, businesses and economy.

“The next State Government is responsible for making sure solar and other renewable industries are supported so household power bills come down, and new investment and jobs in these promising industries are created for NSW.”

Taegen Edwards is available for comment

Media contact: Amy Gordon, 0410 631 404

Investment in solar needed to help families beat soaring power bills

There are growing calls for Federal and State Governments to support lower income families with the rising cost of power bills by investing in renewable energy following media reports soaring power costs have lead to a record number of disconnections in Victoria.

Solar CItizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said solar helps reduce the cost of power bills for all Australians, helping these families by investing in solar power just makes sense.

“The rise in power prices is disproportionately hitting people on lower incomes. We need Federal and State Governments to support these families by investing in solar,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“The Renewable Energy Target (RET) makes good policy sense for Australia. The Federal Government’s own Warburton review found rooftop solar reduced electricity prices for all Australians, whether they had solar installed or not.”

“Any move to wind back or slash the RET will mean higher power prices rise for all Australians by 2020.”

“Solar homeowners have already saved more than $168 million on their electricity bills. If our Federal politicians are really concerned with the rise in the cost of living, solar is the key to reducing this burden on all homes,” said Ms O’Rourke.


Claire O’Rourke is available for comment

Media contact: Amy Gordon  0410 631 404

Solar Citizens to give evidence at Senate Inquiry into ‘goldplating’ of electricity network

Solar Citizens will today give evidence on behalf of 550 solar homeowners who feel they have been unfairly treated by the big electricity companies at the Federal Senate Inquiry into the performance and management of electricity network companies.

The Inquiry is investigating links between higher electricity prices and over-investment in the national grid, known as ‘goldplating’. The hearing today in Sydney will hear how pricing of network services is discriminating against households and businesses who make the sensible generate their own energy to take control of their power bills.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said it was appalling that the overwhelming majority of submissions received from solar homeowners showed they had been treated unfairly by their energy provider.

“The Inquiry submissions of 550 solar homeowners raise the serious question of whether the big electricity companies are trying to systematically deter or disadvantage people who chose to generate their own cost-effective solar power on their roofs,”Ms O’Rourke said.

“The key concerns we heard were people being hit with unfair or hidden fees, an increase in service charges after installing solar, exorbitant fees for installing poles and wires in rural areas and questionable practices from the big power companies.

“The fact is, the biggest component of power bills is network charges, the poles and wires - these charges amount to as much as 60% of the average household electricity bill.

“Australians should be charged for the electricity they use, not the inflated, goldplated prices electricity companies charge.

“Solar can help to bring down power bills by more than 50%, which is one reason why there are 1.3 million solar homes around Australia.”

Through initiatives like the Renewable Energy Target, solar and other renewable energy sources work to lower prices for all Australians, by reducing the wholesale price of power in the longer term.”

“If the Federal government moves to cut the Renewable Energy Target we will see higher power prices for all Australians. Protecting the Renewable Energy Target is good for all Australian consumers, whether they have rooftop solar installed or not.

“Our hope is that this inquiry will make strong recommendations to prevent discriminatory and unfair actions against solar owners and help all Australians households with the rising cost of power prices.” Ms O’Rourke said.

Some typical submissions from solar homeowners include:

  • “It was astonishing to find that my last electricity bill had gone up by more than 200%, even though my actual usage had not changed at all.”
  • “I had a 70% increase in the service fee from one quarter to the next. There was no explanation.”
  • “When we changed over to solar PV, the service charge went from about 80 cents a day to $1.30 and the kwh went from 19 cents to 33 cents, completely negating the savings we were making with our solar panels.”
  • “I live in a rural area, where the nearest power line is perhaps a kilometre away for some people. We have been told they will have to pay up to $10,000 to get the power on.”

Details of Inquiry Hearing
What: Senate Inquiry into ‘gold plating’ by the big energy companies
Where: The Portside Centre, 207 Kent Street, Sydney
When: 17 February 2015,
Speakers: Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke (Claire is scheduled to appear at 4.10pm)

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Interviews with individuals who made submission are also available.

Media contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404