Free solar for NSW low-income households

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The New South Wales (NSW) government is looking to save hundreds of dollars on energy bills of struggling households in its new $15 million rooftop solar trial.

The voluntary program will comprise up to 3,400 households, which will receive 2.5 kW solar PV systems if they forgo their Low Income Household Rebate.

The Low Income Household Rebate is granted to low income NSW homes in the amount of $285 a year to help them deal with the costs of their energy bills.

“The bill savings from the rooftop solar trial are expected to be close to double the value of existing rebate savings with an average bill reduction of $600 per household per year,” Acting Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment, Liz Develin said.

“This means that households who choose to participate in the program could be around $300 better off each year.“

The “entirely voluntary“ scheme announced late last month will be rolled out in five selected State regions: Sydney – South, Central Coast, North Coast, Illawarra – Shoalhaven and South Coast.

“We know energy bills are placing pressure on low-income consumers, so we must ensure that we are doing everything we can to offer support for struggling households,“ she said.

The new program will help NSW step up rooftop solar uptake, which has not been impressive to date.

According to a new scorecard released by the Climate Council, NSW is far behind the nation’s rooftop solar leaders Queensland and South Australia, which have around 32% of households with solar panels installed. With only 17.6% of rooftop solar penetration, NSW ranks fourth among all the states and territories.

NSW does not have a renewable energy target and has no plan to replace its ageing and unreliable coal power stations. In addition, it has cut its rooftop solar tariff by 44% earlier this year, down from 11.9-15c/kWh to 6.9-8.4c/kWh for the period of 2018/19.