Victorian Labor makes $1.24 billion solar pledge

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If re-elected, the Victoria Labor government will give a major push to the rooftop solar deployment across the state with the help of rebates and interest-free loans under a $1.24 billion program announced on Sunday.

The new Solar Homes program will allow Victorians to install a solar panel system for half price and pay the rest of the cost back over four years with an interest-free loan.

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced 650,000 Victorian households will get up to $2,225 upfront for installation of an average 4 kW solar system, resulting in annual savings of $890.

The government is immediately investing $68 million to launch the Solar Homes program.

“From today, Victorians will be able to install a solar panel system and get half of the cost back via a 50% rebate. This will be expanded to include the interest-free loan from July next year, under a re-elected Labor Government,” the government statement reads.

The announcement comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommended the premature winding down of taxpayer-funded incentives for sub-100 kW solar systems by 2021, as one of the measures to put downward pressure on electricity prices.

As the Turnbull government officially supported some of the ACCC package of measures earlier today, which could make Victoria’s generous incentive scheme even more significant. 

“We know the cost of living is going up and it’s getting harder to make ends meet. That’s why Labor is helping families with their energy bills. Only Labor will help put solar panels on your roof to cut your electricity bills by around $900 a year,” Andrews said.

This massive investment is set to bring the number of homes in Victoria with solar panels to one million within ten years, increasing the state’s accumulated rooftop capacity by an extra 2.6 GW. Once the program is complete, Victorians will save $500 million a year on their electricity bills.

The 50% rebate will be available to Victorians with a household income up to $180,000 who live in their own home valued at up to $3 million – this means almost nine out of 10 Victorians who own their own house are eligible.

The government is also planning to establish a new independent agency, Solar Victoria, to work with industry, regulators and training organizations to deliver the program, which will create almost 5,500 new jobs.

In addition, it will invest $9 million to support accreditation of 4,500 electricians to install approved solar panels, in an attempt to ensure safety standards. 

For homes not fit for rooftop solar panels, the government will provide $1,000 rebate on solar hot water systems, as part of the new Solar Homes program.

Under the $60 million package, the rebate on solar hot water systems is available to up to 6,000 households from today and will be expanded to 60,000 households from July next year, under a re-elected Andrews Labor Government.