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QLD Budget a Massive Opportunity to Ease Cost of Living with Support for More Households to Access Benefits of Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency: Power Together

6 June 2023: QLD Budget a Massive Opportunity to Ease Cost of Living with Support for More Households to Access Benefits of Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency: Power Together

The interest rate rise to 4.1 per cent announced today by the Reserve Bank of Australia, combined with further energy bill hikes from July 1, makes it critical for the next Queensland Budget to provide more households access to the benefits of renewable energy and ease pressure on household budgets, according to the Power Together coalition.

The recent Federal budget committed $300 million for the support of energy upgrades and efficiency in social housing, with a challenge for state governments to match them Power 

Together urges the Queensland Government to take up the challenge and commit in the state budget to installing rooftop solar on social housing and the roll out of Virtual Power Plants for 10,000 homes. 

Power Together is also calling on the Queensland Government to provide financial support for:

  • the rollout of solar on at least 10,000 private rental properties; and
  • minimum energy efficiency standards for rental homes.

Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director of Solar Citizens said, “Rooftop solar is one of the cheapest forms of new electricity available today and Queensland households lead the nation with nearly one million rooftop installations.

“No Queensland household should be left behind in the move to cheap, clean solar energy. We need tailored Queensland government assistance to ensure social housing tenants and households who are renters do not miss out energy bill relief from solar.

“Our households should be running on cheap, clean solar power instead of burning expensive, polluting fossil fuels.”

 Dave Copeman, Director at Queensland Conservation Council said, “Queensland’s over-reliance on coal-fired power has helped fuel surging electricity prices. If the Queensland Government is genuine in wanting to deliver a cost of living focussed budget then it must go beyond energy bill rebates and invest more in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“This Budget is an opportunity for significant investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency that eases the cost of living pressure and reduces emissions while improving people’s living standards.

“The action we need to rapidly cut emissions this decade and tackle the climate crisis is the same action we need to improve affordability for life’s essentials.”

 Aimee McVeigh, QCOSS CEO said, “Many Queenslanders on low incomes are already having to make tough choices between paying their energy bills, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head. The interest rate rise announced today will only increase pressure on household budgets and push more people into energy poverty.

“We need urgent government intervention so that Queenslanders on low incomes can share in the benefits of renewable energy.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Jane Garcia (Essential) 0455 111 593

Power Together’s Powering our Future report is available here: https://powertogether.org.au/

Calls for bipartisan support for Queensland’s new Renewable Energy Target

5 June 2023: Calls for bipartisan support for Queensland’s new Renewable Energy Target

Solar Citizens welcomes news that the Queensland Government has announced a $500 million investment in publicly-owned CleanCo to develop 2.3 GW of new renewable energy generation. 

The funding commitment comes as the Queensland Government releases draft legislation to enact the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan. The legislation includes:

  • Queensland’s new 70% by 2032, and 80% by 2035 Renewable Energy Targets
  • A commitment to maintaining majority public ownership of the State’s energy assets
  • The Job Security Guarantee and a fund for workers affected by the energy transformation 

“It’s very welcome news that the Queensland Government is enshrining in law more cheap renewable energy, certainty for workers, and a commitment to keep the majority of the State’s energy assets in the hands of Queenslanders,” said Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director of Solar Citizens. 

“At the moment Queenslanders are still being slugged with high power bills caused by globally high coal and gas prices, and rolling outages at Queensland’s ageing coal-fired power stations. Investing in more Queensland-owned solar, wind and storage means we’ll have more protection from global fossil fuel price spikes.”

A report, released by Solar Citizens and the Queensland Conservation Council, found that large-scale solar, wind and storage projects across the Sunshine State brought wholesale power costs down by $25/MWh in 2022, equivalent to nearly $100 per household. The report found that further renewable energy investment would have brought down costs by more than $500 per household.

Solar Citizens is now calling on the Queensland Opposition to support the new Renewable Energy Targets and legislation.

“Queenlanders should have access to clean, affordable renewable energy no matter who is elected next year,” said Ms Douglas.

“In the lead up to the last state election, the Queensland Liberal National Party was planning to scrap the State’s 50% by 2030 Renewable Energy Target. But a lot has changed since then, including Queensland power bills spiralling because of our dependency on coal and gas.

“It was really encouraging to see Opposition Leader David Crisafulli signal on ABC back when the Energy and Jobs Plan was released that he supports the new 70% renewable energy target. 

“Queenslanders are tired of the energy and climate wars. It’s time for bipartisan support for the transition to clean and affordable energy.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas 0401 092 570

 

Car lobby gets dirty delaying the shift to electric vehicles

29th May 2023: Car lobby gets dirty delaying the shift to electric vehicles

Solar Citizens today responds to the news that the Federal Chamber for Automotive Industries (FCAI) has been privately campaigning for a weak Fuel Efficiency Standard in documents obtained under freedom of information laws by the think tank Influence Map

Clean Transport Campaigner Ajaya Haikerwal says that the FCAI’s tactics are similar to those employed by the fossil fuel industry to delay the shift to renewables. 

“This covert behaviour is right out of the playbook of the fossil fuel industry – delay-ism is the new denialism. The Australian public shouldn't have to put up with this level of corporate spin,” said Haikerwal.

“Carmakers should have gotten the signal that a Fuel Efficiency Standard is coming as 85% of the world's light vehicle market is already covered by one – Australia doing the same should be no surprise. 

“Australia is one of the last two remaining G20 countries to adopt these rules. Car makers must know the age of inefficient, polluting and expensive-to-run cars is over, and they can’t continue selling them in Australia. 

“The auto industry and their vested interests are getting in the way of the amazing cost of living savings presented by electric vehicles. Aussies are already bleeding at the hip with ludicrous petrol prices, so it’s time we modernised our transport sector with cost-saving technology the rest of the world has had for over 10 years. 

The Federal Government is currently consulting on what an Australian Fuel Efficiency Standard should look like, with submissions closing on Wednesday, May 31st. 

“Australia is already so far behind the rest of the world, and our transport emissions are skyrocketing. If we’re ever going to catch up, we need a Fuel Efficiency Standard that meets and beats the commitments of our major trading partners like New Zealand and the European Union and doesn’t have dodgy loopholes like “super credits” for car makers as they have in the United States. 

Analysis we have undertaken shows that Australian communities could be $11 billion better off if we implement a strong Fuel Efficiency Standard, including $4 billion for regional Australians.”

[ENDS]

Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner (0400 723 324

Joint Renewable Hydrogen Funding a Win for Regional Queenslanders

26 May 2023: Joint Renewable Hydrogen Funding a Win for Regional Queenslanders

Solar Citizens today celebrates the announcement that the Australian and Queensland governments have joined partners to contribute $117 million towards establishing Gladstone’s green hydrogen industry. 

The funding will go towards the Front EndEngineering Design (FEED) for Stanwell Corporation’s Central Queensland Hydrogen (CQ-H2) project – which is expected to create almost 9,000 jobs and over $17.2 billion in hydrogen exports over its 30-year life.

“To set up regional Queensland to have a prosperous, future-proof economy, we need to be investing in new clean industries like renewable hydrogen production,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“Australia has the natural advantages to establish new clean manufacturing and renewable hydrogen industries, like world-class solar and wind resources and the minerals needed to make battery materials. But at the moment we’re being outdone by overseas governments.

“The US Inflation Reduction Act and similar initiatives in Europe have set a high bar that Australia has to compete with. That’s why we want to see the investments in clean industry keep coming from the Australian and Queensland governments.

“Analysis by Deloitte estimates that Australian governments will need to allocate at least $15 billion over the coming decade to stay competitive with international hydrogen subsidies.

“We also need to make sure that there’s enough renewable energy coming online to meet the electricity needs of new industries. The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan released last year is a great first step, but now it’s time to build more publicly-owned clean energy projects to enact the plan. 

“Regional Queenslanders have been powering the world with energy exports for decades. Now is the moment to invest in new clean industries so we can continue to power the world as it decarbonises.” 

[ENDS]

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Greater Investment in Cheaper, Cleaner Solar Power a Bright Solution to Energy Price Hike of Between 20 to 25 Per Cent

26 May 2023: Greater Investment in Cheaper, Cleaner Solar Power a Bright Solution to Energy Price Hike of Between 20 to 25 Per Cent

Australian households struggling with the cost of living crisis will be under more pressure as power bills rise up between 20 to 25 per cent across the nation from July 1 and greater government investment in solar is the smart solution, according to Solar Citizens.

Under the Default Market Offer announced today, customers in NSW, South Australia and parts of Queensland could be hit with increases of up to about 22 per cent for homes and small businesses. Media reports today also suggest NSW’s two main renewable energy zones are facing delays, increasing the urgency for the roll out of additional rooftop solar across the state.

Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director of Solar Citizens said, “Businesses and households are under rising pressure from soaring power bills and greater government investment in solar is one of the most equitable ways of bringing energy prices down.

“While the energy bill relief announced in the recent Federal Budget was welcome, the pace of soaring energy prices and the cost of living crisis demonstrates more support is needed for households and small business.

“Rooftop solar provides households with ongoing power savings and reduces the cost of living while energy prices surge.

“It’s a good investment for governments to provide the support and subsidies needed to make savings from rooftop solar available to as many Australians as possible.

“It’s unfair that renters and social housing tenants have largely been excluded from the benefits and cost savings of rooftop solar.

“No Australian household should be left behind in the move to cheap, clean solar energy.

“Solar Citizens calls for tailored government support to ensure the 30 per cent of households who are renters do not miss out on the ongoing, year in year out energy bill relief that solar can provide.

“All Australian households should be running on cheap, clean solar power instead of burning
expensive, polluting fossil fuels,” she said.

[ENDS]


Heidi Lee Douglas is available for interview.
Media contact: Jane Garcia (Essential) 0455 111 593

 

Queensland Announces Vital Strategy to Decarbonise Industry

19 May 2023: Queensland Announces Vital Strategy to Decarbonise Industry

Solar Citizens today celebrates the announcement of the Queensland New-Industry Development Strategy as a key piece of the puzzle to create prosperous, future-proof regional economies.

The new strategy underlines the State Government’s commitment to decarbonising Queensland’s industry, and unveils plans to develop a new Local Economic Opportunities Network (LEO) to work with communities around Queensland to identify opportunities for economic diversification.

“The strategy announced today is vital for Queensland to capitalise on our unique advantages to repower existing industry and establish new manufacturing industries that can create good, regional jobs long into the future,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.

“Right across the globe we’re seeing governments and businesses pivoting towards a zero-carbon future, so to maintain a strong economy we have to adapt and utilise our significant renewable energy advantage.

“At Solar Citizens we’ve been campaigning for years now for the state and federal governments to support regional clean manufacturing hubs and today’s announcement is a key step towards establishing those across regional Queensland.

“Places like Townsville and Gladstone are perfectly placed to capitalise on the world’s shift to a clean economy by producing and exporting clean materials and renewable hydrogen.

“Today’s strategy comes after a number of commitments from the Queensland Government to support new clean industries and transition our energy system. It’s now time for the Australian Government to step up their commitments and put more funding on the table for Queensland clean industry development.

“In the federal budget we saw the Government make a great start, particularly with the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart program, but to compete with international initiatives like the US Inflation Reduction Act we need to turbo-charge our ambition.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Australians Yet to See Clean Transport Cost of Living Savings in Federal Budget

11 May 2023: Australians Yet to See Clean Transport Cost of Living Savings in Federal Budget

Solar Citizens today responds to the significant lack of focus on clean transport spending within Tuesday’s Federal Budget. Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas said that although the organisation warmly welcomed investment in clean energy in Tuesday night’s budget, she hopes that the government soon starts to deliver on the significant opportunity for cost-of-living savings from clean transport.

“Rising fuel prices due to Russia’s war in Ukraine have left Australians dealing with record high fuel prices at the petrol pump. High fuel prices are especially bad for regional Australians, who on average drive further, have older, more inefficient cars, and pay more at the petrol pump than people in cities. This means a higher portion of regional Australians’ income is being guzzled up and sent offshore to foreign oil barons,” said Douglas.

“In addition to its commitments to a Fuel Efficiency Standard and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, this Government should now focus on ways to secure smart, effective cost-of-living savings for Australians from clean transport. 

“We can essentially eliminate household fuel bills if we marry electric vehicles with the rollout of more home solar, enabled by the low‑interest loans for energy‑saving home upgrades in this Federal Budget. This would be a massive saving for Australians’ hip pockets amid ever-rising household costs.

“In addition to what’s already included in the program, the Federal Government should extend the low‑interest loans for energy‑saving home upgrades to e-bikes. Households could see huge savings by swapping out their second car for an e-bike, and also reduce congestion on our roads and carbon emissions.”

Earlier this month, it was announced that Transport Minister Catherine King would conduct a 90-day review into infrastructure projects, to assess which projects are the highest priorities for Australia’s national interest.

“We welcome Minister King’s 90-day review into infrastructure projects, and urge her to address ways that sensible, long-sighted transport decisions can help reduce cost-of-living,” said Douglas. 

“We urge the Government to prioritise walking, cycling, and public transport infrastructure when assessing projects during this review – putting people and the planet first. 

“Building and widening urban freeways encourages more driving, causes congestion and carbon emissions, and is an expensive option for households while petrol prices skyrocket. Instead, building more walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure gives people a low-cost, low-carbon and healthy alternative to driving, while also reducing congestion”

“Solar Citizens supports the Climate Council’s call for 50% of the transport budget to be spent on public transport and 20% to be spent on walking and cycling, but any shift in this direction would be very welcome.” 

Tuesday night’s budget commitments for clean transport include:

Reducing Transport Emissions

The Government will provide $20.9 million over 5 years from 2022–23 for initiatives to decarbonise the transport and infrastructure sectors and support achieving the net zero by 2050 target. Funding includes:

  • $7.8 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to develop a Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan to support the decarbonisation of the transport and infrastructure sectors
  • $7.4 million over 4 years from 2023–24 to develop Fuel Efficiency Standards to encourage light vehicle manufacturers to increase the supply of fuel efficient and electric vehicles in the Australian market
  • $5.2 million over 4 years from 2023–24 to support Australia’s transition to electric vehicles through the development of a national charging infrastructure mapping tool, safety guidance and training for emergency service workers. Funding will also support the evaluation of requirements for retrofitting existing multi-residential buildings with electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and a large format battery recycling, reuse and stewardship initiative in Australia
  • $0.6 million in 2023–24 to develop a Maritime Emissions Reduction National Plan to facilitate the energy transition for the domestic maritime sector.

[ENDS]

ABOUT SOLAR CITIZENS: 

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organization working to protect and grow renewable energy and clean transport in Australia. Our website is https://www.solarcitizens.org.au/ 

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director, Solar Citizens
m: 0401 092 570 | e: [email protected]

Federal Budget Response 2023

May 9 2023: Budget comment from Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director at Solar Citizens

Solar Citizens warmly welcomes the Federal Budget commitment to providing energy bill relief for millions of Australians who urgently need support, in particular long-term energy bill relief through low interest loans for solar and energy saving upgrades.

We also welcome the $300 million to help people in social housing benefit from energy performance upgrades. The best way to help people in social housing to lock in lower bills for good is through clean energy upgrades like efficiency and adding rooftop solar to social housing.

We call on state governments to match this funding dollar-for-dollar so everyone in social housing can save with both solar and other energy upgrades.

National polling released this week clearly shows the vast majority (79%) of Australians want Federal Government assistance for ongoing energy bill relief through access to cheaper, smarter and cleaner household solar. The Australian community also supports funding for installing solar on public and community housing as a priority (79%).

Electrification of households requires more cheap, clean, renewable energy, and just last week Energy Minister Chris Bowen stated we urgently need 60 million more household solar panels installed on Australian homes in the next seven years. To do this, we need solar on social housing and on rentals.

No Australian household should be left behind in the move to cheap clean solar energy. Solar Citizens calls for tailored government support to ensure the 30% of households who are renters do not miss out on the ongoing, year in year out energy bill relief that solar can provide.

All Australian households should be running on cheap, clean solar power instead of burning expensive, polluting fossil fuels. 

[ENDS]

Media contact: Jane Garcia (Essential) 0455 111 593

More Household Solar Should Be a Priority for Federal Budget: New National Poll

A new national poll has revealed the vast majority (79%) of Australians want Federal Government assistance for ongoing energy bill relief through access to cheaper, smarter and cleaner household solar.

The Glow poll commissioned by Solar Citizens found:

·   79% of Australians want the Federal Government to prioritise subsidies or grants for low-income households to install solar in the upcoming Federal Budget,

·  75% of people want funding for interest-free loans for homeowners to purchase rooftop solar included in the Federal Budget;

·  Community members also supported solar equity, with 79% indicating funding for installing solar on public and community housing should be a Budget priority;

·  86% of Australians say their energy bill gas increased a lot or a bit over the past 12 months; and

·  About half of people indicate they’re using air conditioning or heating less (50%), or cutting back on other energy use (49%).


Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director of Solar Citizens said, “Australian households are feeling the pinch with rising power bills and increasing cost of living including yet another interest rate rise.

“This poll shows the community wants support in the upcoming Federal Budget for more household solar to reduce energy bills, because we know that solar saves money. Having access to solar at home massively cuts your energy bills. It’s that straight forward. 

Rooftop solar can save up to an average of $750 per year on their electricity bill, for up to 20 years, but upfront costs and other barriers are preventing many households from accessing these savings.

“The Federal Government must support more households to afford solar and share in the benefits it brings. But we need to make sure no-one is left behind - especially those that need it most.”

“Besides general support for households to afford solar, such as targeted financial support and interest-free loans, federal funding for social housing would also help states roll out solar panels on social housing properties - which could cut the power bills of at least 249,000 struggling households.

“Faster roll-out of household solar will amplify the Government's household electrification agenda.  “Australians are looking to the Federal Government and this upcoming Budget for real action to address the cost of living crisis and soaring energy bills with significant investment in solar – for all of us,” she said.

[ENDS]

Heidi Lee Douglas is available for interview
Poll results
 available here.


Media contact: Jane Garcia (Essential) 0455 111 593

Coalition of Civil Society, Environment and Faith Groups Launch Eight-Point Climate and Cost of Living Plan

Queenslanders renters could save up to $3,200 per year with better access to clean technology.

A coalition of civil society, conservation and faith groups have today launched a new eight-point plan to address cost of living pressures on Queenslanders through investment in climate solutions.

The new Power Together coalition includes Queensland Conservation Council (QCC), Queensland Community Alliance (QCA), Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS), Solar Citizens, the Uniting Church in Australia Queensland and Anglican Church Southern Queensland (Social Responsibilities Committee), with support from research partners the Griffith University Climate Justice Observatory and the QUT Centre for Justice.

The new report, Powering Our Future: An Action Plan for Qld's Cost of Living and Climate Challenges includes an urgent call for the Queensland Government to further increase the $200 electricity bills rebate to vulnerable Queensland households while electricity costs remain high.

Additional immediate Government action must also include assistance for vulnerable social housing tenants slash their power bills with better access to renewable energy, the rollout of solar on at least an initial 10,000 private rental properties and financial support for households to access clean technology such as solar and storage or for energy efficiency.

A recent report by the Climate Council shows the average Brisbane household can reduce their power bill by up to $1,588 a year with improved energy efficiency and electrification [1].

Analysis undertaken by Power Together has revealed a third of Queenslanders who rent or live in social homes are missing out on up to $3,200 in savings per year because they don’t have equal access to clean technology, like rooftop solar, to slash their bills.

Dave Copeman, Director of Queensland Conservation Council said, “The Power Together coalition is launched today with a clear message for the Queensland Government – action on climate change is action on cost of living for Queenslanders.

“The number one topic on everyone’s mind is how to manage the cost of living crisis and a large part of that solution is literally shining down on us every day.

“If the Queensland Government is concerned about the cost of living, it must implement the 
Powering Our Future action plan and invest in climate action, including renewable energy and storage and energy efficiency.”


Aimee McVeigh, QCOSS CEO said, “The cost of living crisis is seeing Queenslanders going without food, medicine, air conditioning or heating, in order to save money wherever they can.

“Queensland needs to fast track its transition to renewable energy so that more Queenslanders can benefit from lower power prices, sooner.

“It’s vital that the transition to a low-carbon economy not just benefit the wealthy. The Queensland Government should support all Queensland homes to move away from gas appliances, become more energy efficient and power their home with cheap solar energy, as a guaranteed way to help families reduce their bills.”  

Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens
 said, “The clean technology we need to help everyone slash their power bills is here, and now it’s a matter of governments making it available, including for the third of Queenslanders who rent or live in social housing,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.

 “In other states governments are investing in solar and storage on social housing and public buildings, and offer financial incentives and no-interest loans for households to invest in solar, storage, and efficient electric appliances.

 “These schemes not only help participating consumers, they also incentivise more cheap solar energy and storage that work to relieve grid stress and bring down power bills for everyone.”

Dave Copeman and Stephanie Gray are available for interview.
Interviews with spokespeople from other Power Together organisations and case studies may be available on request.

Powering Our Future: An Action Plan for Qld's Cost of Living and Climate Challenges report [attached]

The eight-point plan for Queensland’s cost of living and climate crisis includes the following recommendations for the Queensland Government:

  • Commit to continuing and increasing the $175 electricity bills rebate to vulnerable Queensland households while electricity costs remain high.

  • Assist the most vulnerable social housing tenants slash their power bills by rolling out a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) on at least an initial 10,000 dwellings.

  • Facilitate the rollout of solar on at least an initial 10,000 private rental properties.

  • Provide targeted financial support, including interest-free loans and grants for those at extreme risk, for the rollout of household clean technology, such as small-scale solar and storage, energy efficiency upgrades and electric appliances to replace gas.

  • Bring online more publicly-owned renewable energy projects sooner to bring down power bills and improve reliability for Queenslanders. If a further 2,000 MW of publicly-owned solar and wind projects and 500 MW of utility-scale battery storage came online before 2025, it would bring down wholesale power prices and create up to 3,475 construction jobs.

  • Include an enforceable mechanism in the upcoming Renewable Energy Target legislation to ensure Queensland’s targets are met, and there’s ongoing accountability for the rollout of renewable energy and the replacement of fossil fuel generation.

  • Work with the Federal Government and other Australian states and territories to deliver an ambitious National Framework for Minimum Energy Efficiency Rental Requirements, and ensure mandatory minimum energy efficiency rental standards and mandatory disclosure are implemented as soon as possible in Queensland.

  • Invest directly into communities through a purpose built fund  to enable community based organisations to collaborate and organise within their communities, to build energy and climate resilience

Media Contact: Jane Garcia, 0455 111 593 or
Bron Matherson, 0438 844 765