Victoria’s Solar Homes program returns with a bang

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Victoria’s Solar Homes program has returned with thousands of new rooftop solar, battery and hot water system rebates, as well as solar interest free loans. This financial year, Solar Homes will support 49,000 installations, including 42,000 rooftop solar systems on 40,000 owner-occupied homes and 2,000 for rented homes, as well as 1,000 grants for retrofitted residential storage.

The Victorian government officially launched the second round of the program on Monday looking to boost energy supply, create jobs and slash power bills across the state. The $1.3 program Solar Homes program aims to put solar panels on 770,000 Victorian homes within 10 years, as well as provide support for another 60,000 homes to install solar hot water systems and 10,000 homes to install storage battery applications.

“Victoria’s solar revolution starts today,” Minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio.“With more rebates and now optional no-interest loans on the table, we’re further reducing the up-front costs to make solar more accessible to Victorians from all across the state.”

Revamped round

Originally oversubscibed and temporarily halted, Victoria’s Solar Homes second phase is expected to be backed up by more stringent auditing program. This builds on the government’s decision to make smart inverters mandatory for solar PV installations under the program and introduce safety and industry accreditation requirements for installers and solar retailers. According to Solar Victoria, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) had rejected 23 applications for its approved retailer list, with most already reapplying to ensure they meet the high standards.

“We’re holding solar retailers to the highest standards. Victorians want to be assured solar retailers will adhere to all legislation and regulations, and that sales representatives will act ethically, and honestly,” Solar Victoria Acting CEO, Jonathan Leake said, noting Solar Victoria was on the lookout for dodgy behaviour by solar salespeople and installers, referring them to Consumer Affairs Victoria and the CEC.

Another measure taken to roll out the program safely and fairly is a monthly quota with 3333 rooftop solar rebates available each month. According to the counter on Solar Victoria’s website at the time of writing, 1,689 rebates remain available in July, which means that a half of rebates allocated for this month were snapped in the first day.

Following problems with oversubscription and a confusing customer interface which left some 600 households short of rebates, the new round kicked off with a streamlined application process. From now on, the scheme will require at least one quote form a CEC-approved retailer, before confirming a customer’s eligibility through the Solar Victoria online portal. Customers will need to have an eligibility number before installing a system to be able to claim a discount of up to $2,225 off their invoice. The no-interest loan for solar panels will also be offered at the point of sale, matching the rebate amount.

With more than 32,000 households already enjoying the benefits of solar with the help of first round rebates, the new round will also offer 1,000 rebates for retrofitted solar storage batteries targeted at areas with high rooftop solar penetration, including  200 battery rebates available from 1 July, 400 from 1 November and 400 from 1 March.