21 December 2017

Solar rebates to reduce energy costs for Canberra’s low-income homes

| Glynis Quinlan
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ActewAGL Retail Sales Manager Tony Muckle, Corrine Phillips and ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury at the launch of the new program. Photo: Supplied.

A Phillip mother-of-two will finally be able to run the air-conditioner in her bedroom during Canberra’s hot summer nights after becoming the first ACT householder to have rooftop solar panels installed under Actsmart’s solar for low-income households program.

Corrine Phillips suffers from a degenerative disease and believes that reduced energy costs from accessing solar will also benefit her in the future if she needs to use a wheelchair and other electric items. She believes it will also ‘future proof’ her from electricity price rises.

“Everybody should get solar,” said Corinne. “This scheme just makes it more affordable for those of us who otherwise couldn’t get there.”

Under the program announced earlier this week, eligible low-income householders will be offered a rebate of up to 60 per cent on costs for the supply and installation of a rooftop solar photovoltaic system. Participants will also have access to an interest-free loan which will enable them to pay back the remaining installation costs over a three-year period.

“The beauty of this program is that it breaks the barrier for people of the upfront cost,” said Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, in announcing the program.

“Often people can’t afford that initial capital so this scheme in providing both a subsidy and then a loan that can be paid back from the savings makes it possible for all households to access solar.”

Mr Rattenbury said that the program will bring down energy costs for households most in need, with estimated savings of $300 to $900 a year.

“I’m sure this program will become very popular and word-of-mouth will be a big part of that,” he said.

Mr Rattenbury said that the program is available to people who are in possession of an Australian Government pensioner concession card.

A cost-benefit analysis will also be undertaken for each household participating based on electricity consumption and household composition. The subsidy will also cover upgrades for a switchboard and smart metre if required.

All solar panels in the program are Clean Energy Council certified and have a 25-year performance warranty.

Corrine had the full-sized 4.9 kW system installed, with 14 panels installed in only about three hours.

A consortium of business, conservation and community groups, known as ACT Energy Consumers Policy Consortium, have thrown their support behind the new program.

Director of the ACT Council of Social Service, Susan Helyar welcomed the focus on helping low-income households with energy costs.

“Middle and higher income households in Canberra have been provided with significant subsidies to invest in solar panels. It is vital that lower-income households are given better access to this technology and infrastructure.”

Director of Care Financial Counselling, Carmel Franklin said that low-income households need support to adapt to more extreme weather events and to reduce their energy costs.

“Without this assistance, we see growing hardship associated with bill shock and poor health caused by inadequate temperature control in cold winters and hot summers.”

The Conservation Council’s Larry O’Loughlin said that the ACT Climate Change Council had recommended the ACT Government accelerate the transition to zero net emissions from 2050 back to 2045.

“Measures like this announced today are needed to ensure we reach this earlier target date,” he said.

Anyone who believes they meet the eligibility criteria or would like further information can contact the Actsmart team on 13 22 81 or visit www.actsmart.act.gov.au.

What do you think of this new solar rebate program? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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