20 November 2021

Government loan scheme powers rooftop solar demand and jobs

| Ian Bushnell
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Rooftop solar install

Customers are using the Sustainable Household Scheme to fit as much solar as they can on their roofs. Photo: SolarHub.

The ACT Government’s interest-free loan scheme to help householders boost the energy efficiency of homes has received more than 1500 applications worth $16.5 million since it began as a pilot in July.

By 15 November, 1552 householders have applied for a loan of up to $15,000 through the Sustainable Household Scheme for a range of products, with 394 installations having been completed.

About $1 million in loans are being settled every fortnight and 2.7 MW of rooftop solar has so far been installed under the scheme.

A government spokesperson said the majority of feedback received from customers about the scheme had been positive.

“They are genuinely excited about making sustainable improvements to their homes, doing their bit for the environment, cutting down on energy costs and future-proofing their homes,” the spokesperson said.

Most applications have been for solar systems only (794) followed by solar and battery bundles (335), battery only (153), heating and cooling systems (151), hot water heat pump (106), electric stovetops (12) and only one for an electric vehicle charger.

Householders can bundle any products up to the $15,000 loan limit.

The spokesperson said phase 2 of the scheme will include loans for electric vehicles and open before the end of the year.

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Loan applications for EVs will be open to all eligible households and individuals at the same time.

“All the current known EV suppliers have been invited to participate and a range of new and used EV dealerships have already shown interest in the scheme,” the spokespersons said.

More information about this next stage will be available soon.

Canberra region solar energy system installer SolarHub said the phone had been running hot since the start of October with a doubling in the number of enquiries and sales.

CEO Ben Masters said the company was booked out until the end of January and demand had been mainly for solar and batteries, with many using the scheme to choose bigger systems.

He said the typical residential system was 6.6 kilowatts but people were buying up to 10kw with the average now 8 or 9kw.

“People are really maxing out that loan and maxing out what they can fit on their roof,” Mr Masters said.

He said the company had just taken on four new apprentice electricians and expected to create a further three internal teams to cope with the demand.

The scheme was creating new jobs and was a good news story coming out of lockdown and COVID, he said.

But SolarHub was not immune to the supply chain issues and price increases, especially for goods coming out of China, impacting all industries.

Mr Masters said its suppliers had warned the company and it was able to place bigger forward orders in August and September, but there had been delivery delays that had forced rescheduling of installations.

He said SolarHub had been forced to bump up prices in the past few weeks, in some cases 10 to 15 per cent, saying it had been able to absorb some of the cost but could not avoid passing on the rest to consumers.

The demand created by the scheme has attracted some Sydney and Melbourne companies into the market, but Mr Masters said there was a strong Canberra industry and people were keen to spend locally and support local businesses, particularly after COVID.

“There are a lot of good local companies that are priced right, that deliver good customer services and a high-quality install, so I think the local industry is able to counter that Sydney and Melbourne influx,” Mr Masters said.

The scheme is open to new applications for five years.

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I wonder if this loan scheme explains some of the recent price hikes in solar installations.

My parents down the coast paid ~$4500 a couple of months ago for a decent quality 6.6Kw system, the same installer quoted me $1400 more.
Others have recently around the $9000-$10,000 mark for a 6.6Kw system

Capital Retro1:35 pm 23 Nov 21

But we are repeatedly told by the expert warmists on this blog that renewables are cheaper.

No doubt the pile on will start and I will be ridiculed again.

I assume there is a strong correlation…… why not when someone else is paying.

Nothing ever gets cheaper when you through more money at it. Everything is supply and demand driven.

You only have to look at house prices. Cheap interest rates enables people to borrow more money. Low supply increases demand for those properties and with an abundant source of cheap finance, prices escalate.

People now have up to $15,000 of interest-free money. It’s no surprise to me that prices have increased.

Capital Retro6:44 am 24 Nov 21

Despite the “free” interest component the best feed-in tariff being offered by ActewAGL (ActewAGL Solar Advantage) is 12.0c capped for the first 8.0 kWh and 7.0c kWh thereafter so when you crunch the numbers home solar is still a dud-deal unless there is a imagined value for virtue signalling.

Capital Retro,
Thanks for highlighting the issues with small scale residential solar.

You are right, we should instead be promoting large scale renewable energy projects which are far more economically viable and significantly cheaper than fossil fuels which are in decline because of their high cost.

Good point.

Capital Retro5:44 pm 22 Nov 21

It would appear that the ACT Government will buy $150 million worth of “Green Bonds” in Brighte which appears to have a “principal and agency” arrangement with the NAB so the actual lender will be Brighte who will charge additional “fees” but no interest.


What could possibly go wrong?

I suspect they’ve probably adopted the model where the government covers the interest costs per say on the loan, rather then is being some ’roundabout’ model with fees rather then interest.

That certainly is how NSW has done it previously per say for a similar sort of approach, and we all know how governments love to borrow ideas from each other, good and bad. I doubt its as complex as buying the green bond product you suggest, and primarily focused around a ‘loan book management’ function more than anything else.

Capital Retro9:13 am 24 Nov 21

“Suspect” isn’t good enough,JS9.

Usually by now, you or chewy19 should have analyzed the whole deal and confirmed exactly how much it is going to cost ratepayers.

Capital Retro,
Are you seriously deriding JS9 for putting forward an unverified opinion on the potential financing, when he was replying to your comment doing the exact same thing?

Bahahaha, great double standards as usual.

I don’t understand this. The government are offering an interest free loan scheme for energy efficient home improvements, but the actual loan comes from Brighte, who have offered these loans across Australia for several years already. What does the ACT government add to this, that Brighte weren’t already offering?

I’m going with Electioneering.

David Shiels4:19 am 23 Nov 21

It appears the act government are paying the loan costs that are how loan providers make their money with interest free.

Mmm, it looks like Blighte change a $1.50 weekly account keeping fee ($80 year) on their zero interest loans, and if the loan from Brighte is via the ACT scheme then the accounting fee $0 per week.

Capital Retro10:53 am 22 Nov 21

I hope the government has gained some experience in money lending following the Rhodium Asset Solutions debacle: https://the-riotact.com/it-took-8-million-in-consultants-fees-to-bury-rhodium-at-a-crossroad/30491

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