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NECA calls for Australian government intervention on solar

The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) is the latest body to call on Australian state and federal governments to ensure stability for the nation’s small scale solar industry.

The constant changes in rebates and feed in tariff programs instigated by various governments over the last few years and especially the past few months are the primary cause of the recent flurry of solar businesses going into external administration in Western Australia says General Manager of NECA Western Australia, Mr Kyle Kutasi.

“NECA is calling on both State and Australian governments to provide stability to the industry by committing to long-term policy positions in consultation with industry. There are too many jobs at stake to make policy on the run.”

“As a consequence of all the policy confusion, jobs are now being lost. Sales in the industry have fallen by over 50% since the State Government announced the end of the feed-in tariff,” said Mr. Kutasi.

On August 1, Western Australia’s Energy Minister Peter Collier suspended the state’s feed in tariff for new applications, stating that even without the scheme, households installing a solar power system will still see a reasonable payback period. Horizon Power and Synergy are continuing to purchase surplus electricity generated by household systems, albeit it a greatly reduced rate

According to information from national solar solutions provider Energy Matters, even given the situation, an entry-level 1.44kW solar energy system installed in Perth will still return approximately $480 in financial benefits each year - a substantial saving in a time where electricity costs are skyrocketing. However, the fact that electricity retailers are buying surplus solar-generated electricity for peanuts and reselling it at a premium has raised the ire of solar supporters and impacted on uptake.

NECA’s call joins one from earlier in the week by the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES), demanding the Australian Federal Government intervene. AuSES reiterated that the solar industry was not looking for handouts, just national and uniform legislation to ensure a fair rate is paid to system owners for surplus electricity generated by their rooftop solar arrays.

With South Australia and Victoria also reducing feed in tariff rates for new applications submitted after the end of this month, small scale solar power in Queensland will lead the nation from October in terms of feed in tariff incentives for new applicants, offering a rate of 44c per kilowatt hour.

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