5 April 2022

Canberra's low-income households to benefit from new solar rebate scheme

| Lottie Twyford
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Rooftop solar install

Low-income households and public and social housing tenants will benefit from the first stage of the Home Energy Support Program. Photo: File.

Low-income households and those in public and social housing will ‘not be left behind’ as the ACT works towards net-zero emissions by 2045.

Under the Territory government’s newly-launched Home Energy Support Program, low-income households are now eligible to receive rebates of up to $2500 for installing rooftop solar panels.

Including an initial investment of $3.1 million to run stage one, the ACT Government has committed a total of $50 million over four years.

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By mid-2022, the program will expand to include an additional rebate of up to $2500 for other energy-efficient products, including heating and cooling systems, insulation and hot water heat pumps.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury said the program is intended to provide real and ongoing cost of living support to Canberrans who need it most.

“Lower-income households tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on energy and feel the impacts of energy price rises the most, but these households often cannot afford to purchase energy-efficient measures that will help them lower their costs,” Mr Rattenbury said.

Shane Rattenbury MLA

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury said the program would expand further to provide an additional rebate for other products later this year. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

People who hold a Centrelink pension concession card or Department of Veteran Affairs Gold Card will be eligible for support through the program. They will also have the option to apply for a no-interest loan as part of the Sustainable Household Scheme if they need further support to cover the upfront costs of installation.

The Sustainable Household Scheme, which provides loans for electric vehicles and solar, had so far been very “popular”.

Mr Rattenbury said he believed the combination of the two schemes would help make solar more accessible.

Previously, an “over-subscribed” Solar for Low-Income scheme helped more than 670 households save more than $1000 on their energy bills per year.

It’s hoped the new scheme will be able to deliver similar ongoing savings to people who sign up. “This is year after year of savings, not a one-off payment,” Mr Rattenbury said.

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“We are very conscious as a government that as we move to a clean energy transition, as we seek to tackle climate change, we also need to be looking after the low-income households in our city,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“There’s a real opportunity here – as we move to a cleaner, greener future – we can help low-income households save money on their energy bill, too.”

Canberrans who believe they may be eligible are asked to undertake an awareness and information training session before making a call to an accredited provider.

It’s generally understood the ACT has around 38,000 low-income households.

Mr Rattenbury said it’s expected there will be a “modest rise” in ACT electricity bills this year before prices fall next year but the introduction of renewables to the system would drive prices down over time.

Emma Campbell

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said those on low incomes could not be left behind as the ACT transitions to a cleaner, greener future. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) welcomed the commencement of the program. CEO Dr Emma Campbell said ensuring all Canberrans have access to safe and affordable utilities is important for social justice and for tackling climate change.

“We know that people on low incomes are most affected by climate change. They can’t afford to escape the smoke and bushfires, their houses are poorly insulated and many struggle to keep their houses safe, warm in winter and cool in summer,” she said.

Dr Campbell agreed it was important the ACT did not leave those on low incomes behind as it transitioned to renewables.

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How low does a households income have to be to access this? I just searched the whole page for “$” and nothing came up about the actual income amount

That’s the issue I was trying to get at. I think the scheme is designed for Pension Card holders not actual low income Canberrans.

Which in most cases in Canberra the funding will be going to an Aged Pensioner couple whose Government Super pays them up to $90k per year, they own and live in their fully asset test exempt house and they have something less than $400k in other assets.

I really think the support for Solar panels should be more targeted to ‘low income working homeowners’ who probably work under minimum wage awards such as nurses, cleaners, shop assistants, service industry etc.

Canberra is already struggling to retain and attract these kind of workers due to the city’s high cost of living.

ACTCOSS do a great job but are primarily focused on the Social Services side and less on low income working poor.

Scott Anthony11:19 am 07 Apr 22

its “been very popular”… Really…..?

FREE money and hand outs have ALWAS been very popular, not so much for the people who have to work and pay tax to pay for it mind you….!!

Capital Retro10:51 am 07 Apr 22

“We are very conscious as a government that as we move to a clean energy transition…..”

Aren’t we already running on 100% renewables? Isn’t that “clean energy”?

I think this should be renamed pensioner solar rebate scheme. Not low income scheme.

It looks from the details like only the people with pension and concession cards are eligible. It’s also the working poor in part time or award wage jobs who are suffering at the hands of rising household costs and that Canberra has gone from the cheapest energy in Australia to the most expensive energy in the country (based on one report I saw).

We are leaving our poorest 25% of Canberrans behind in this ever expensive city of haves and have nots.

A handful of lousy rebates for those pensioners who can afford to upgrade their energy efficiency and some interest free loans isn’t really addressing the problem.

Looks like yet another half arsed scheme made to look like government is doing something. Like the ACT government affordable rent scheme that helped only 50 households.

Capital Retro10:54 am 07 Apr 22

Anyone with a pension card already receives a substantial energy rebate. Low income families need heating at night so solar power is totally useless for them.

Yeah, agreed, it’s just dumb and inefficient.

Also funny that part pensioners who own their own home are already significantly incentivised to upgrade their homes and add solar and other capital improvements that lower ongoing costs anyway.

They get the massive benefit of increasing their housing asset value which isn’t counted in the pension assets test, increased pension payments because they have less assessed assets and lower ongoing bills.

Great for some.

“Low income families need heating at night so solar power is totally useless for them.”

Truly breathtaking ignorance again but par for the course for any CR comment relating to renewable energy.

What a ridiculous comment. But par for the course with the nonsense constantly rolled out by CR around renewable energy.

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