Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

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

NSW clean energy funding a ray of sunshine

The NSW Government’s announcement of $85million in funding for regional community energy and storage projects is a welcome first step according to Solar Citizens.

“This is a great step to support communities to install solar and to take back control of not just their power bills but their energy system,” said Joseph Scales, National Director at Solar Citizens.

“Community-owned energy opens up the benefits of rooftop solar to households who might not be able to put it on their own roofs because they’re renters or their properties aren’t suitable.

“Regional community energy hubs will enable more and more people to be part of the rooftop revolution.

“Five community energy hubs is a good start but we need more of them all across the state and especially in Western Sydney to be a trusted source of independent advice.

“It’s great for the NSW Government to make this initial investment in clean energy but we’ve seen the Victorian Government put $1.2 billion on the table this week for rooftop solar and now’s the time for the Berejiklian Government to go further.

“With the Federal Government making clear this week they won’t do anything to support a fast and fair transition to renewable energy it’s heartening to see the states stepping up but NSW has a lot to do so it’s not be left behind.

“Now is the time for the Berejiklian Government to step up and make sure NSW doesn’t miss out on more renewable energy investment by setting a target and supporting households to go solar.

“Unless NSW takes a proactive approach to renewable energy, the investment will simply flow into other states and territories that already have renewable energy targets and schemes like reverse auctions in place,” said Mr Scales.

Turnbull Throws Renewable Energy Under the Bus

Monday, 20 August: The Turnbull Government’s announcement this morning that the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) will no longer include emission reduction targets is another kick in the teeth for Australia’s renewable energy industry, says community group Solar Citizens.

“What remains of the National Energy Guarantee policy will do absolutely nothing to support Australians who want to go solar or the expansion of renewables in Australia,” says Solar Citizens National Director Joseph Scales.

The latest changes to the NEG, come as the Federal Government remains silent on whether it will concurrently try to pass the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommendation to slash the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) nine years early.

“Today’s changes to the NEG policy, coupled with the Turnbull Government's failure to rule out scrapping the small-scale solar scheme, will undermine future efforts of everyday Australians to power their lives with renewable energy,” said Mr Scales.

“It’s clear that Australians love renewable energy; more than five million of us live under solar roofs.

“Rather than bow to pressure from a handful of backbenchers, the Prime Minister should listen to the will of the people and construct energy policy that supports the growth of renewables and solar.

“Solar is the only certain way for households to take back control of soaring power bills, and if the Turnbull Government was serious about helping consumers, it would support more Australians install solar.”

Last week energy giant Origin came out in support of slashing the SRES, at the same time that Australia’s big energy companies have been reporting record profits.

“The Turnbull Government needs to stop pandering to the backbench and the big end of town, and instead help energy consumers take the power back,” said Mr Scales.

“Solar energy is not only cheaper for those living under a solar roof, Solar Citizens’ expert analysis has shown that solar brings down the wholesale price of energy for everyone.

“The new NEG policy is an even bigger dud of a deal for consumers. The Government should listen to the interests of consumers and have the guts to bring forward a real energy plan and rule out cuts to rooftop solar.”


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Andrews Government rooftop solar investment right way to bring down power prices

Sunday, 19 August: Solar Citizens applauds the announcement by the Victorian Andrews Government today to provide financing support for 50% of the upfront cost for 650,000 Victorian homes to go solar.

‘The only certain way to bring down your energy bill is by going solar,’ says Solar Citizens National Director Joseph Scales.

‘Unfortunately, many people are locked out of enjoying the benefits of cheaper energy bills that solar provides because they can’t afford the upfront cost.  The Andrews Government has today provided a simple but significant answer to that,’ explains Mr Scales.

‘While the Turnbull Government is actually making it harder for people to go solar, by cutting the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and disincentivizing solar through the NEG, we are once again relying on leadership of states.’

If governments are serious about bringing down power prices they will work to make rooftop solar accessible to more households.

‘The Andrews’ Government’s announcement today will help more people join the solar revolution -- so they can take back control of their soaring energy prices and enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar.’

‘It’s not just solar owners who benefit.  Experts agree that renewable energy helps bring down power prices. An Energy Synapse report commissioned by Solar Citizens last year showed that wholesale power prices in one state would have been 33-50 per cent higher if it weren’t for rooftop solar,’ adds Mr Scales.

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia.


Media contact: Joseph Scales 0429 033 210

National Energy Guarantee delayed over renewable concerns

Friday, 10 August: This morning’s decision by state and territory energy ministers to withhold binding support for the anti-renewable National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is welcomed by community group Solar Citizens.

“Solar Citizens welcomes Victoria, Queensland and the ACT standing up for solar households and consumers and deferring a final decision on the National Energy Guarantee,” said Joseph Scales, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“The National Energy Guarantee continues to be a flawed mess of a policy that favours big energy retailers at the expense of solar households and power prices.  

“Under the current National Energy Guarantee proposal, the big energy retailers would be able to claim the emissions reductions achieved from the contributions of households who invested in rooftop solar, without any benefit to those households.

“What we need now is strong policy that recognises the contributions of solar households; supports renewables, and helps more people take up rooftop solar.”

Experts agree that renewable energy helps bring down power prices. An Energy Synapse report commissioned by Solar Citizens last year showed that wholesale power prices in NSW would have been 33-50 per cent higher if it weren’t for rooftop solar.

But while power prices are sky-rocketing, Turnbull’s NEG will stifle renewables and give the big end of town a free ride at the expense of households.

“The Turnbull Government has been too busy designing a policy to appeal to a small section of the Coalition party room instead of responding to Australians desire for more renewable energy,” said Mr Scales.

“The targets in the NEG are woefully inadequate and all evidence points to them being met by the time the NEG comes into effect.

“Every home and business can benefit from cleaner, cheaper power, if Turnbull just stands up to the dinosaurs on his own backbench, but the NEG as it stands only takes us backwards.

“Today’s decision to delay binding support provides an opportunity to try and fix this mess of a NEG. Solar Citizens calls on all energy ministers to hold out until there is a national plan that backs a renewable future.”

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Full house for Repower Penrith Launch

Wednesday 30 July: Tuesday night saw Solar Citizens launch a new campaign to Repower Penrith with clean energy, with a packed room at the bowls club attended by fifty local residents.

“Penrith is clearly ready for their politicians to lift their game and start delivering clean, affordable energy for everyone,” says Kristy Walters, community organiser at Solar Citizens.

“Penrith is a key battleground for the state election and it’s clear that residents here see solar as the solution to rising power bills.

“The launch was just the beginning with attendees signing up to survey across Western Sydney to get everyone’s views on what needs to be done so everyone can access the benefits of rooftop solar.

“Solar supporters will be out and about in Penrith, talking to voters and delivering the sunny message to local MPs.

“Close to 5,000 houses and small businesses in Penrith have rolled up their sleeves and put solar on their roof, but there’s a lot more empty roofs that could be producing clean, cheap power.

“We need the state government to address the barriers that get in the way of people who rent, live in apartments or simply can’t afford the upfront cost of solar to enable them to make the most of Australia’s abundant sunshine,” said Ms Walters.

ACCC’s Rooftop Solar Recommendation Misses the Mark

Wednesday, 11 July: The recommendation by the ACCC to abolish the small-scale renewable energy scheme (SRES) in 2021 should be rejected by the Turnbull Government because it is a slap in the face to consumers who want to slash their bills by going solar says community advocacy group Solar Citizens.

The ACCC Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry final report includes a recommendation to wind down and abolish the SRES by 2021.

“Slashing the small-scale renewable energy scheme is absolutely the wrong way to go if you want to save households money on their electricity bill,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“Already 1.8 million Australian households and businesses have put solar on their rooftops because it’s the best way to guarantee savings on your electricity bill.

“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.

“Abolishing the small-scale renewable energy scheme will just make it harder for everyone else who wants to be a part of the rooftop revolution and the Turnbull Government must rule out changes to the scheme.”

It’s not just solar households who save with rooftop solar. A report commissioned by Solar Citizens found that in just one year NSW solar owners saved all of the state’s energy consumers a total of $2.2-3.3 billion.

“We know that solar saves everyone money, so why would the Turnbull Government accept a dud recommendation that would make it harder for people to take back control of their power bills?” said Ms Tager.

“The small-scale renewable energy scheme has provided crucial support to households in lowering the upfront cost of investment in rooftop solar.

“We need programs to make it easier for more households and business to go solar rather than recommendations like this one which will make it harder.”


More information about the SRES available here.
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006


IPART Decision Daylight Robbery for NSW Solar Owners

Tuesday 3 July: Solar owners have intensified their call for the NSW Government to take action on feed-in tariffs after confirmation today that the benchmark feed-in tariff rate has been slashed says Solar Citizens.

The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) released a new benchmark of 6.9-8.4c/kWh, down from 11.9-15c/kWh. IPART has cited increased solar exports lowering the wholesale price of power as one of the main factors for the benchmark change.

“The decision to cut the feed-in tariff punishes solar owners, it’s like getting a pay cut for working overtime and the Government shouldn’t allow it,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“Letting big energy retailers off the hook and allowing them to make a profit from the hard work of solar owners is daylight robbery that won’t end until the Government steps in.

“The buck stops with the NSW Government, they should use their power to intervene and set a fair price for solar that takes into account the wholesale price of power as well as the social and environmental benefits of rooftop solar.

“Solar owners have been doing the heavy lifting, keeping the lights on in NSW during heatwaves and cutting power prices for everybody, it’s time that the many benefits of rooftop solar are recognised.

“Slashing the feed-in tariff sends absolutely the wrong message to households in NSW who would like to go solar,” said Ms Tager.  

Analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens showed that solar households in NSW cut at least $2.2 billion off the the wholesale price of power for everybody in the state in just one year.


Solar Feed-in Tariffs are paid to solar owners for the excess electricity that they generate and feed into the grid. In NSW IPART sets an annual benchmark to guide electricity retailers in setting their feed-in tariff.

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

NSW Budget Snubs Solution to Power Bill Crisis

Tuesday, 19 June: The Berejiklian Government’s NSW Budget has failed to deliver support for households to cut power bills through rooftop solar or put the state on the pathway to generate clean, renewable energy says community advocacy organisation Solar Citizens.

“The NSW budget doesn’t do anything to help people who rent, live in apartments or are low-income install cost-cutting rooftop solar and make the most of Australia’s abundant sunshine,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“NSW’s 400,000 solar households and small businesses have sent a clear message with their wallets -- they see clean solar power as the way to take back control of their power bills, it’s time for the Berejiklian Government to catch up.

“The NSW Government says they support renewable energy but it’s crunch time and they haven’t delivered for households.  

“Power bills are skyrocketing and rooftop solar is the guaranteed way for households to cut them, why wouldn’t you support more households to go solar?

“Solar households in NSW have cut power bills for all energy users, with rooftop solar slashing up to $3.3bn off electricity prices in just one year. Supporting more households to go solar is a move that makes sense for household budgets and for power users across the state.

“NSW’s energy system is ageing, inefficient, polluting and is ready to be replaced by renewable energy with storage but there was nothing in this budget to help build the energy system of the future,” said Ms Tager.


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Solar Owners Call for a Fair Price for Solar After Doing the Heavy Lifting

Tuesday, 15 May: Solar owners responded to a proposal to cut feed-in tariffs (FiT) by descending on NSW Parliament House this morning in tracksuits and sweatbands to call for a fair price for their solar.

More than 20 solar citizens participated in the Keep Solar FiT stunt to urge the State Government to mandate a minimum fair price for the solar feed-in tariff. The group made use of dumbbells and an imitation barbell and performed an aerobics routine to ‘Walking on Sunshine’.

“Solar owners are tired of doing the heavy lifting and not seeing any gains. The NSW Government needs to step in and mandate a fair price for rooftop solar that’s fed back into the grid,” said Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“More than 400,000 households across the state have stumped up their own money to put solar on the roof, they’ve done the legwork, it’s time for the government to do their bit and ensure they get a fair price for the power they produce.”

The stunt was in response to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) recent proposal to slash the recommended solar feed-in tariff from 11.9-15c/kWh to 7.5c/kWh.

NSW Shadow Energy Minister Adam Searle and Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith spoke at the action and demonstrated support for mandating a fair price for solar. NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin did not attend.

The Greens took the opportunity to announce their intention to later this week introduce a Private Member’s Bill to mandate a minimum fair price for solar.

A report commissioned by Solar Citizens found that in just one year solar households saved NSW energy consumers $2.2 billion.

“This latest proposal from IPART is a slap in the face to all the households that are pumping out clean power and reducing the cost of electricity for everyone,” says Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner for Solar Citizens.

“It’s time for NSW to adopt a fair minimum feed-in tariff that recognises the financial, environmental and health benefits that solar households provide to the whole community.

“Already, 12,107 people have signed our petition calling for a Fair Price for Solar.”

Media contact: Shani Tager 0432 050 809
Photos and video of the stunt can be found here