Media - Solar Citizens

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Solar boost to cut household energy bills

9 February, 2019: Solar Citizens today said NSW Labor’s announcement to support 500,000 households to adopt rooftop solar would drive down energy bills for people for whom solar was previously inaccessible.

Solar Citizens Director Joseph Scales said the solar boost was well targeted and would put the power back in the hands of households.

“There are more than 5 million Australians, living in 2 million households with solar panels,” said Mr Scales.

“Rising electricity costs and a desire to take control back from energy retailers is driving significant growth in new solar but some people have been excluded because of inadequate government policy.

“That will change if Labor’s policy becomes a reality and we will be able to tap into the real potential of rooftop solar.

“There is around 15GW of potential rooftop solar capacity on NSW houses – we can massively increase energy supply simply by empowering people to generate their own electricity.”

Mr Scales said there was also now clear evidence that rooftop solar not only drives down power bills for solar-homes, but also cuts the price of power for everyone else.

“An increasing amount of power is exported to the grid by solar households, which is a cheap source of power that can be provided to others.”

Media contact: Tim O’Halloran 0409 059 617

Labor’s Battery Bonanza Win for Solar Households

Thursday, 22 November: Solar Citizens applauds Federal Labor’s plan to offer battery rebates for 100,000 low and middle income Australian households. Labor’s plan also includes investing $100 million in low-cost loans for batteries to help renters, low-income households and social housing residents slash their electricity bills.

“More batteries in the system is exactly what the doctor ordered – it’s good for the grid and great for household power bills. This is an exciting announcement by Federal Labor,” said Solar Citizens’ National Director, Joseph Scales.

“The beauty of this scheme is that it’s targeted at low and middle income households, which is the same demographic that have the highest uptake of rooftop solar, and are of course the people who benefit most from solar savings.

“Australians have turned to solar in droves, in fact, almost 2 million households and businesses now have solar on the roof. This plan will mean that more of those households can use their clean, affordable energy around the clock.

“For too long retailers have been ripping off solar households by only paying a pittance for solar energy that’s exported to the grid, but now more households will be able to make the most of their panels."

Labor also announced that they would directly underwrite renewable generation and resurrect the National Energy Guarantee with a higher emissions reduction target of 45%.

“Labor’s commitment to boost renewable generation is all well and good, but it just doesn’t go far enough,” said Mr Scales.

“Australia could be a clean energy superpower that exports our natural renewable resources to help power the rest of the world, but we’re missing our head start.

“It’s also disappointing to see that Labor wants to fund more expensive gas generation to firm the grid when there are better technologies available.”

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Renters to Join the Renewables Revolution in Andrews’ Victoria

Thursday 8 November: The Victorian Government’s game-changing renewable energy announcements are a win for all energy consumers, says community group Solar Citizens.

Today the Victorian Government committed to expanding the Solar Homes Program by $82 million to make it easier for the occupants of 50,000 rental homes to access the cost-cutting benefits of rooftop solar.

This announcement comes just hours after the Andrews Government pledged to increase the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) to 50% renewable energy by 2030. To see the light of day, both of these announcements are contingent on the Government being re-elected.

“Expanding the Solar Homes Program to include rented households is great news for all energy consumers – it’s game-changing,” said Solar Citizens’ National Director Joseph Scales.

“If implemented, this policy would be an Australian-first and would be instrumental in breaking down the barriers that stop renters from slashing their electricity bills with solar.

“This scheme is a win win: tenants will see hundreds of dollars in electricity savings a year, while landlords will increase the value of their property.

"Despite what the big retailers will have you believe, more solar on rooftops helps drive down the price of electricity for everyone.

“More people pumping out their own clean power into the grid, will help reduce peak demand and ease rising electricity prices.”

Solar Citizens has been campaigning for all levels of government to assist renters, people living in apartments and low-income households access rooftop solar – so that everyone in the community can produce their own cheap and clean electricity.

The Government’s commitment to increasing the VRET is also welcomed by the community group, as it’s expected to result in a total of $9 billion worth of investment and more than 11,000 jobs.

“Victoria is one of the state’s leading the nation in the transition to clean, renewable power, but with just over thirteen percent renewable generation, there’s still a long way to go,” said Mr Scales.

“It’s time for the Victorian opposition to get up to speed, just last week Matthew Guy was talking about building a new, uneconomic and polluting coal-fired generator. That would completely take the state in the wrong direction.”


Media contact: Joseph Scales 0429033210

NSW Energy Announcement a Step in Right Direction

Wednesday, 31 October: The Emerging Energy Program, announced today by the NSW Government, is welcomed as a step in the right direction by community group Solar Citizens.

“It’s great to see the NSW Government release a plan that will help steer the state towards a clean energy future,” said Joseph Scales, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“NSW’s ageing coal clunkers are reaching the end of their lives, so supporting more low-cost renewables with storage is the right move for lower bills and less pollution.”

The program is designed to help replace the state’s coal plants over the next 15 years and will provide funding for eligible large-scale dispatchable projects.

“While the Federal Government has abandoned any policy attempt to support the transition to renewables with storage, this plan shows that the economics stack up and the transition is here,” said Mr Scales.

“Solar and wind are already cheaper, and this plan is the first step to provide the investor certainty needed to repower NSW with clean energy.

“So far this program seems positive, however as more details emerge, it will be disappointing if this scheme funnels money into expensive gas generation.

“NSW has world-class solar and wind resources – tapping into these could provide more energy than all of the state’s coal and gas reserves combined.”

While Solar Citizens applauds the NSW Government's latest energy announcement, there is still more work to do to lock in a clean, renewable future for NSW and assist transitioning communities.


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Energy Minister backs down, heeds calls from solar consumers to save SRES

Wednesday, 24 October: As part of his energy announcements this week, Minister Angus Taylor has finally heeded calls from solar consumers led by Solar Citizens to rule out axing the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

‘This is a huge win for consumers around the country – saving the SRES will mean more Australians can enjoy the benefits of solar and lower their energy bills,’’ says Solar Citizens’ National Director Joseph Scales.

“The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme makes investing in rooftop solar affordable.

“The cost of rooftop solar would increase by approximately 30% by axing Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.”

The ACCC gave a misguided recommendation to cut the SRES nine years early or even immediately.

Solar Citizens mobilised thousands of solar consumers to call on the Federal Government to rule this out:

  • Nearly 10,000 signed our open letter to the Energy Minister (jointly with Smart Energy Council);
  • Hundreds of constituents contacted their MP asking them to join our call to rule out axing the SRES; and,
  • Numerous people wrote to their local papers and had letters to the editor published which explained the benefit of the SRES.

“Energy consumers are tired of being taken for a ride by electricity retailers, which is why Australians are installing solar at record rates so that they can take the power back into their own hands,” concludes Mr Scales.

The Abbott Government also backed down from cutting the SRES and the RET in 2015 when Solar Citizens delivered petitions with 28,000 signatures to the Government.


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Energy Companies Attack Rooftop Solar to Protect Profits

Thursday, 11 October: It's galling to see energy gentailers that recorded huge profits last year encourage the Federal Government to make it harder for Australian households to slash their electricity bills with solar, says community group Solar Citizens.

In a speech yesterday, spokespeople from both Origin and EnergyAustralia encouraged the Federal Government to scrap solar subsidies, including the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

"Everyday people are taking the power back with rooftop solar," said Solar Citizens’ National Director, Joseph Scales.

"While the big energy companies have been making huge profits, Australians have taken matters into their own hands by installing solar to produce their own cheap, clean energy.

"1.9 million households and businesses can't be wrong, solar is the best way for people to reduce their electricity bills."

In the first half of this year, EnergyAustralia made headlines after nearly trebling their earnings, largely due to the higher wholesale electricity prices. In a speech yesterday, Energy Australia’s head of energy Mark Collette claimed that their opposition to the SRES was based on helping low-income families.

“If the Federal Government and the big energy companies were serious about helping low-income households, they would keep schemes like the SRES that help more people go solar,” said Mr Scales.

“Low-income households have been at the mercy of Australia’s big three energy gentailers for too long – scrapping the SRES will only make the upfront cost of solar a bigger hurdle for people that are doing it tough.

“It’s obvious the only reason EnergyAustralia and Origin want to axe support for solar is because it is competition to their soaring profits, putting power back in the hands of the consumer.

“If big energy companies were serious about the energy transition, they would be talking about how we manage the grid not how to slow down solar uptake.

“For too long big energy companies have enjoyed control over consumers – now that everyday people are taking back control, they want to slam on the brakes.

“Slowing down the transition by axing solar schemes will do nothing to reduce energy bills.”

Despite the rhetoric from the big energy players, rooftop solar helps all energy consumers. A report commissioned by Solar Citizens found that in just one year NSW solar owners slashed the state's wholesale price of power by $2.2-3.3 billion, largely by reducing peak demand.


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Release in response to the comments made by Origin and EnergyAustralia spokespeople at the AFR National Energy Summit.

Clive's Coal Power Plan Dwarfed by Central Qld’s Renewable Energy Boom

The Solar Power Stations already being developed in Central Queensland will create more jobs, more investment and bring down power prices faster than Clive Palmer's latest crazy scheme, according to community group Solar Citizens.

“Clive Palmer’s proposed coal-fired power station in the Galilee Basin is a minnow compared to the clean energy power stations currently planned for the region,” said Solar Citizens' Queensland Coordinator Louise Matthiesson.

“Right now, there are 2 large solar power stations under construction in Central Queensland and another 10 in the planning stages.

“Combined, they involve $3 billion of investment and are expected to deliver 4,400 jobs during construction and 200 ongoing full-time jobs.

“That’s twice as much investment, and 3-4 times as many jobs as Clive’s coal-fired fantasy  and these projects are much more financially viable.

“Many of the companies behind the region’s solar projects are international renewable energy companies with a strong track record like Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Acciona Energy.

“Mr Palmer has a long track record of making big announcements and failing to deliver, this proposal is likely to meet the same fate as his plans to rebuild the Titanic.

“The solar power stations could also deliver more electricity than Mr Palmer’s project, in fact they will have a combined capacity of 2,200MW, enough to power 1.6 million homes.

For comment contact: Louise Matthiesson 0406 041 428

SOURCE: Green Energy Markets (2018) ‘Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions’ Full report and Central Qld Renewable Industry Profile available to download at:

Large-scale renewable energy projects in Central Queensland

Current at May 2018, includes projects >2MW [1]

Projects under construction

Fuel type

Project Name


Capacity (MW)



Emerald Solar Farm





Lilyvale Solar Farm

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures




Projects in development [2]

Fuel type

Project Name


Capacity (MW)



Baralaba Solar Farm

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures




Bluff Solar Farm

Infigen Energy




Crinum Creek

Adani Renewables




Bouldercombe Solar Farm

Eco Energy World




Tieri Solar Farm

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures




Comet Solar Farm

Hadstone Energy




Raglan Solar Farm

Eco Energy World




Rodds Bay Solar Farm

Renew Estate




Yarwun Solar Farm

Renew Estate





Acciona Energy




[1] Appendix B - ‘Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions’ Green Energy Markets, 2018
[2] Projects ‘in-development’ have either: a site identified and landholder consent; submitted a development application to local Council; or have a development approval.

Bright day for Renewables in Victoria

Tuesday, 11 September: Solar Citizens commends the Victorian Government’s back-to-back renewable energy announcements today.

A re-elected Andrews Government will expand their already nation-leading commitments to help more households take the power back with rooftop solar and storage by providing half price solar batteries for 10,000 Victorian solar households.

“Victoria is driving down energy prices and giving consumers back control by making household solar and storage more accessible,” said Joseph Scales, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“We’re hearing a lot of hot air from Canberra about reducing electricity prices, but here is an example of Government getting on with the job and delivering lower prices by embracing clean technology.

“We know that solar and batteries are popular with Australians, already 5 million of us live under a solar roof, but for many households the upfront cost can be a hurdle.

“By providing batteries at half the price, more Victorians will be able to enjoy the benefits of clean power around the clock, which is good news for consumers and the grid.”

The Victorian Government also today announced the outcomes of their first renewable energy auction, saying that it will generate more than 900MW of new, clean energy, including three solar farms and three wind farms.

“It’s great to see the Victorian Government creating jobs and lowering power bills in one fell swoop by backing clean energy projects,” said Mr Scales.


Media Contact: Stephanie 0425543006

$24 billion Investment, 35,000 Jobs at Stake Without Qld Government Action to Support Renewables

Tuesday, 4 September: Queensland’s planned renewable energy projects could inject $24 billion into the state’s economy and support up to 35,000 jobs if the state government strengthens policy and support for the sector, according to a new Solar Citizens report.

Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions shows there are currently 50 operational renewable energy projects and 27 under construction across the state*. BUT, an additional 69 planned renewable projects awaiting approvals and investment decisions are at risk of not going ahead.

Report author Tristan Edis said: “The renewable energy power stations built or committed to construction in Queensland since 2015 will deliver $4.2 billion in investment with 5,687 construction and 273 ongoing full-time jobs.

“If all renewable energy power plants being considered for investment were to proceed, the sector would generate six times more jobs and economic benefits to the state  - that’s $24 billion in investment, 34,000 construction jobs, 1,500 ongoing full-time jobs.”

The Solar Citizens report also found:

  • World class renewable energy resources: The state’s solar and wind farms are achieving levels of energy generation 20% to 50% greater than international standards.  

  • Rooftop solar boom: There are 550,000 rooftop solar systems in Queensland and the rooftop solar industry already supports an estimated 1,200 full time jobs.

  • Savings:  Queensland homes with solar save on average $720 per year on electricity bills, and businesses an average of $3,000. Across the state, that equates to an estimated at $414 million of savings.

  • Renewable energy targets: One quarter of Queensland’s electricity will come from renewable energy sources by 2020. The additional 15,000MW of proposed new renewable projects could lift renewable energy to over 90% of Queensland’s electricity needs.

Solar Citizens Queensland spokesperson Louise Matthiesson said: “Queensland’s high-quality sun, wind and water resources give us a major competitive advantage over other states and countries around the world.

“Without strong, consistent and ongoing policy support for renewables, it is highly likely Queensland will miss out on many of these opportunities and fall short of reaching its target of at least 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Friday’s Clean Co announcement was a welcome step, but the state still lacks a clear renewable energy industry roadmap to harness this resource to create jobs and investment for regional Queensland.”

View the summary brochure and full report here


Media contact - Jolee Wakefield 0415 833 948

Power to the People: Australia’s First Publicly-Owned Renewable Energy Company

Thursday, 30 August: Today’s announcement by the Queensland Government that they will come good on their election promise and set up renewable energy company CleanCo is welcomed by community group Solar Citizens.

The Palaszczuk Government announced that they will initially commit $250 million to progress the development of new, public renewable energy generation with the aim of having CleanCo trading by mid 2019.

“It’s great to see the Government acting decisively to implement this important election promise,” said Queensland Campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“The Government is building the energy system of the future – these projects will be good for the environment and the economy.

“Building publicly-owned renewable energy power stations will create sustainable jobs in regional Queensland and shape our electricity system to meet the needs of Queenslanders, not multinational companies.

“This decision will be backed by ordinary Queenslanders. As Australia’s leaders in rooftop solar, it’s clean Queenslanders love clean, affordable power and voters have shown that they want to keep our electricity system in public hands.”

While Solar Citizens supports the decision to move the state’s existing hydro power plant under the ownership of CleanCo, the Queensland Government’s move to allow Swanbank E Gas to be owned and operated by CleanCo is disappointing.

“Gas is neither clean nor renewable. We’re concerned that it will distort the vision of CleanCo, which should be 100% focused on building a clean energy future for Queensland,” said Ms Matthiesson.

The Palaszczuk Government also announced that they will establish a Just Transition Group to help affected communities through the energy transition.

“We welcome the Palaszczuk Government’s efforts announced today to ensure a just transition for Queenslanders,” said Ms Matthiesson.

“In order for everyone to enjoy the benefits of the transition to renewables, we need to support workers and communities previously dependent on high-carbon energy generation.”

“Today’s announcements are an important step forward towards the Government’s target of at least 50% renewable energy by 2030, but our state still needs a clear roadmap to guide the transition.”


Media Contact: Louise Matthiesson 0406041428