Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases


Soar Citizens has welcomed the Queensland Government’s announcement that it will conduct an inquiry into a fair price for solar in the state.

Campaigns Director Dan Scaysbrook said the inquiry will deliver on the government’s election promise to look into the contribution of solar households to the grid and how they should be paid for clean energy supplied to the network.

The inquiry will also investigate the public and private benefits of rooftop solar, including social, economic and environmental benefits.

“Queensland’s 422,923 solar households have done the right thing by investing in clean energy and making a growing contribution to the state’s electricity grid. It’s now time for this public inquiry to ensure they’re given a fair go,” Mr Scaysbrook said.

During the Queensland Election, when solar owners were facing attacks by the then Newman Government Solar Citizens throughout Queensland approached political candidates and asked them for their positions on solar. The Queensland Labor party released a “A Solar Future” policy which included a commitment to determining a fair Feed in Tariff and a goal of a million solar rooftops in Queensland by 2020.

“After the state election more than 600 solar homeowners across Queensland wrote to the new State government asking them to keep their election promises of support for solar and renewables.

“We know there are many other people interested in installing rooftop solar power who are waiting on the outcome of this Inquiry for evidence that times have changed and they can get the support they need.

“Queensland is in a prime position as the 'Sunshine State’ to make the most of attracting investment in renewable energy and the jobs and cost savings it can bring.

“Both the Queensland electricity pricing and solar reviews are expected to report in the first half of 2016. The outcomes will be watched closely by solar homes and their supporters for policies that can power up solar investment in the state,” he said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Selected comments from the 662 letters sent by solar homeowners to the Qld govt:

“I have been wanting to get solar for a long time but better tarriffs would make me go ahead and get it. Please, improve the tarriff pay back.”

“Dear Premier and minister,
Queensland has HUGE and more reserve of sunshine that any thing else, I would appreciate to see your government starting to help more of us to take advantage of our climatic situation, because our PM with his acolyte's reluctance to do so is becoming an international embarrassment”

“I am looking forward to you delivering on your promises to the Queensland people for a strong pro-solar energy commitment made in your election pitch. As a private citizen I have invested in solar since the Liberal hatchet job at Federal policy level. I am looking to you counter it giving strong State leadership for the sake of our children and for our national reputation going into the Paris climate negotiations.”

Minister Anthony Roberts: Reject cuts to NSW’s solar feed-in tariff

Solar Citizens calls on NSW Minister for Energy Anthony Roberts to guarantee the state’s solar homeowners will continue to receive a fair feed-in tariff, without cuts.

It is already voluntary in NSW for new solar owners to be paid for energy they supply back into the grid.

Campaigns Director Dan Scaysbrook said IPART has got it wrong by recommending a cut to NSW’s feed-in price to as low as 4.8 cents per kWH.

“A dramatic 14% cut to the minimum feed-in tariff will make it harder for solar households to bring down their power bills and ease the cost of living,” he said.

“A slashing of the feed-in tariff would be extremely unfair and a disaster for NSW’s 262,301 solar households.

“The State government has spoken of having ambitious plans for renewable energy and making NSW ‘Australia’s answer to California’ in terms of increasing solar energy production.

“Now it’s time for the government to move beyond words and reject any reduction in the solar feed-in tariff that supports existing solar homeowners who have done the right thing and families looking to install rooftop solar.

“It will be hard for individual households to get more than the minimum feed-in from their retailer.

“The cut will obviously make it difficult for individual households to get a good deal from their power company. They simply don’t have the negotiating power. When retailers set the rules, solar owners lose.

“It punishes tens of thousands of households that are likely to lose a large chunk of the already small financial return they receive from providing clean, renewable energy back into the grid.

“NSW’s Solar Bonus Scheme is set to run out at the end of 2016 and the slashing of the tariff now sets a dangerous precedent for those who invested in the scheme and how they’ll be treated.

“Minister Roberts should support solar and immediately reject unfair changes to the feed-in tariff,” he said.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004


Solar Citizens has welcomed the release of the Victorian Renewable Energy Roadmap as a significant step forward for the growth of renewable energy and rooftop solar in the state.

The Roadmap sets out four priority areas of government support:
• Establishing a renewable energy target of no less than 20 per cent by 2020.
• Using the Government’s electricity purchasing power to support the creation of hundreds of renewable energy jobs.
• Ending unfair discrimination and improving access to the grid for solar customers.
• Supporting clean energy jobs through the $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund.

National Director Claire O’Rourke said the roadmap announced was significant for people in Victoria who want to take control of their household power bills by going solar.

“NSW has proudly positioned itself as “Australia's answer to California” when it comes to accelerating renewable energy but the Renewable Energy Roadmap means Victoria will give it a keen run for its money,” she said.

“More than 250,000 Victorian homes have already installed solar power to cut their electricity bills.

“Rooftop solar means cheaper power for homeowners and it means new jobs and less polluting power generation for Victoria.

“Earlier this year, 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.

“We welcome the roadmap’s commitment to protect solar households from unfair fees and ensure that household power bills come down.

“Solar Citizens urges all State government to follow the leadership shown by Victoria and invest and support in growing renewable energy and rooftop solar,” she said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

AEMC’s Demand Management delay means more discrimination against solar homes

The Australian Energy Market Commission has delayed energy bill savings for all consumers - including solar households - by deferring for four years the implementation of the Demand Management Incentive Scheme Rule Change.

Under the current AEMC rules, electricity network business can make profits on owning and building more poles and wires but lose money if consumers save energy or generate their own power with solar panels. This has led to a perverse incentive with networks trying to discourage solar take-up with ever-growing fixed charges.

The new rule means the networks are rewarded if they help solar households and other customers to reduce energy usage. Both network businesses would have higher profits and consumers would have lower bills as a result.

“Solar Citizens welcomes the rule change that will encourage networks to reward households that move to energy saving mechanisms including installing rooftop solar, batteries and home energy management systems,” said Dan Scaysbrook, Director of Campaigns and Organising at Solar Citizens.

“But they won’t be implemented by the Australian Energy Regulator until 2019 or 2020. It is an unacceptable to delay a commonsense rule change that helps with the cost of living for both solar and other households alike.

“The new rule rewards power companies for encouraging customers to save energy. It provides a fair incentive for power companies to support the installation of more solar with storage technology, helping to lower energy bills.

“The AEMC’s own research shows that household bills could be reduced by $120 to $500 a year by demand management.

“This delay to implementing the Demand Management Incentive Scheme rule means an unnecessary hit to family budgets in households that are making the sensible move to use less electricity at times where there is more strain on the grid.

“Australians overwhelmingly support renewable energy and energy saving both in terms of creating cleaner energy and its role in the future energy mix. We need the big power companies and our political leaders to support the thousands of Australians who want to install solar,” said Mr Scaysbrook.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Solar homeowners targeted in SA Power Networks money grab

Solar Citizens has condemned SA Power Networks for unfairly targeting solar homeowners after it asked the Federal Court to overturn the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) decision to reject new taxes for solar homeowners.

“SA Power Networks’ latest attempt to discriminate against solar homeowners is deeply concerning and utterly unacceptable,” said Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke.

“This is a brazen money grab from SA Power Networks who want to target solar homeowners, and are again trying to push through unfair fees onto the solar community by any means possible.

“When SA Power Networks first proposed these new taxes on solar homeowners there was widespread community outrage.

“South Australians sent a clear message that they would not accept this attack on solar homeowners, and the AER listened and rejected the proposed fees.

“It’s time for SA Power Networks to listen too, and to stop trying to penalise those in the community who are embracing renewable energy.

“SA Power Networks can either attack or embrace the community energy revolution. This latest move indicates they intend to undermine the efforts of thousands of South Australians who have chosen to take control of their electricity bills by making the switch to solar.

“There are more than 184,920 solar homes in South Australia with more people going solar every day.

“Power companies need to stop trying to impose unwarranted charges.

“This is an unacceptable move by SA Power Networks and we call on them to put a stop to this witch hunt,” said Ms O’Rourke.

For more information contact Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004

Queenslanders face bill shock as electricity fixed prices surge

Households across Queensland are in shock as they open their latest electricity bills and find out they have been slugged up to $428 for ‘fixed’ electricity network charges, according to Solar Citizens.

The Queensland Competition Authority raised fixed electricity network charges by more than 20 per cent from July 1.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said it was a joke that the average household could now pay up to $428 per year, regardless of how much power they use.

“We’re being contacted by solar homeowners from across Queensland who are outraged that their electricity network costs have escalated, whether they use any network power or not,” she said.

“The increase in charges reflects poor planning from the network providers and suggests a cash grab for profits, with consumers left carrying the cost.

“The new Queensland government committed to more solar power with an election promise to "target one million solar rooftops”.

“It's hard to see how they will meet this target when fixed charges like this one discourage sensible energy usage and removes the incentive for people to go solar or upgrade their energy efficiency.

“More and more households are no longer content to just take the deal offered by the big power companies - people want to generate their own clean energy with solar and enjoy the cost savings on their power bills.

“All homeowners deserve to be treated fairly. The Queensland Government should work to reverse these unfair network price hikes and never allow it to happen again,” said Ms O’Rourke.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004


Australia’s major electricity network operators have failed to plan for renewable energy such as solar making up a growing part of the energy mix - and want to penalise homeowners for their failure, whether they have solar or not according to Solar Citizens.

A recently released report by the Energy Networks Association, Future Network Cost Recovery And Depreciation, outlines a series of harsh penalties it suggests could be imposed on households including:

  • an arbitrary and punitive network exit fee if solar households decide to leave the centralised energy grid;
  • charging all households whether they are connected to the mains grid or not; and 
  • a plan to compensate networks for poles, wires and substations no longer needed.

It’s unacceptable for big electricity companies like Ausgrid, Ergon and SA Power Networks to slug solar homeowners for their comprehensive lack of good management and future planning,” said Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke.

“These companies have been goldplating the electricity network for years, pushing up prices for consumers, and now they’ve been caught out asking for more.

“The number of solar homes in Australia has grown from about 14,000 in 2007 to more than 1.4 million today.

“More and more households are no longer content to just take the deal offered by the big power companies - people want to generate their own clean energy with solar and enjoy the cost savings on their power bills.

“Generating your own solar power allows people to take control of their power bills. Families are installing solar, pensioners are buying rooftop panels and the highest uptake has been among low and middle-income areas.

“We need innovation and new approaches that treat all homeowners fairly and are not aimed at making it harder for people to go solar and lower their power costs,” she said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Energy Networks Association, Future Network Cost Recovery And Depreciation, report available here:

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Australians back US ambition and support 50% renewable energy by 2030: new poll

US President Barack Obama’s revised Clean Power Plan announced overnight will generate a boom in renewable energy such including solar, according to Solar Citizens.

National Director Claire O’Rourke said the new US plan is part of a global push towards renewables and Australia risks missing out on economic opportunities unless full support is thrown behind solar power.

“President Obama has shown strong leadership in placing renewable energy at the forefront of future energy plans for the United States,” Ms O’Rourke said today.

“At home we’re seeing millions of Australian households switching on to renewable energy by installing rooftop solar and saving money on soaring power bills.

“The Australian community believes in solar and renewables as the smart way of meeting our energy needs now and for ensuring a robust and thriving economy.

“A new Essential Research Poll to be released today reveals the overwhelming majority of Australians support the Labor Party’s policy of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

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

“Australians have long been calling for more support for renewable energy and it is clear that Labor’s policy of a 50% target has struck a chord with the public.

“Despite ongoing Federal Government attacks on renewables, Liberal/National voters were more likely to approve (45%) than disapprove (35%) of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

“This poll demonstrates that renewables is above politics. The ongoing high level of support for renewable energy in Australia shows the vast majority of people support strong political leadership and a strong commitment to renewable energy,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director at Solar Citizens.

“Australia’s solar and renewable energy industry has suffered from a sustained attack from the Abbott Government since it came to power, undermining jobs and investment, and the Australian people have clearly had enough.

“The community want to see a clear political commitment to a strong solar future and want an orderly plan to manage the way our energy system is changing. The Abbott Government should listen to the majority of Australians who support solar because it helps them take control of their power bills,” she said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004


Comments by Prime Minister Tony Abbott at a press conference today show he is committed to trying to destroy renewable energy and the power savings it delivers to Australian households, according to Solar Citizens.

Campaigns Director Dan Scaysbrook said it was disappointing the Federal Government spoke of the fundamental importance of helping people with the cost of living, yet it ideologically refused to support rooftop solar that lowered energy bills.

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott is standing in the way of what Australians want most -- a healthy and growing future for renewable energy,” he said.

“There are already 1 million households generating their own affordable, clean energy from rooftop solar. A recent survey of these solar households found they were saving up to 60% on the cost of their power bills.

“The goal of 50% renewable energy as part of the power mix by 2030 is realistic, achievable and in the best interests of consumers.

“The way we use energy is changing, with families and businesses reaping the benefits of lower power bills and energy independence.

“We need leaders with an comprehensive plan to make sure power bills go down, not up.

“Australia needs the growth in new investment, innovation and jobs that renewable energy can bring the nation -- if our leaders can get behind it with their support.

“We urge the Abbott Government to bring bipartisan support to the 50% renewable energy goal by 2030, to show Australians that they will deliver sensible policies that are in the national interest,” he said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Boosting solar and renewable energy front and centre in Labor plans

Solar Citizens welcomes the ALP Conference endorsement today introducing a goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke, said this strong commitment from Labor will create thousands of jobs and help Australian households invest in rooftop solar as an effective way of reducing power bills.

“The battlelines are now redrawn for the Federal election on renewable energy policy,” she said.

“Voters are backing solar. Essential Polling released last week found 55% of people saying they would be more likely to vote for a party that increased government support for renewable energy.

“There are already 1.4 million Australian households with solar power - enough to shift election outcomes.

“A 50% renewable energy by 2030 is achievable and what the majority of people want for our nation,” Ms O’Rourke said today.

“The way we use electricity is changing. Australians want to see a sensible plan that powers up the economy, creates more jobs and helps lower household power bills.

“A recent poll found 65% of Australians support the move to generate 50% or more of our energy from renewable sources by 2030.

“The ALP has today listened to the community and backed renewables. We urge the Abbott Government to back down from its relentless attacks on renewables and do the same,” she said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia  0434 489 533