Solar Victoria portal crashes as expanded rooftop PV rebate opens

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Soon after the release of the September offering of rooftop PV rebates on Monday morning, Solar Victoria’s application portal encountered technical difficulties and was taken offline. The new round of rebates follows substantial changes wrought to the Solar Homes program, including a significant increase in rebate allocations and alleged streamlining of the laborious online application portal.

Only hours after the release of 6,500 rebates, Solar Victoria reported a problem with the application portal on social media channels. “We are aware some customers are having difficulty selecting their chosen solar retailer and retrieving their quote. Our team is working to resolve this and we will keep everyone updated. Thank you for your patience,” it said in a post.

After that, Solar Victoria has taken the portal offline to resolve the issue. Following a number of posts saying the site’s developers were still working to fix the problems, the agency finally promised to re-open the program on Tuesday. 

On both Twitter and Facebook, hundreds of frustrated applicants have responded to Solar Victoria’s posts in yet another outbreak of discontent with the Solar Homes program’s execution. After a solar rallies on the steps of Victorian Parliament and outside the offices of Premier Daniel Andrews against the adverse effect of the rebate program rollout, the Government has responded to industry concerns and introduced significant changes.

The most important change is the addition of a substantial number of rebates in September and a less prominent but continual increase every month for the remainder of the financial year. The program was scheduled to release 6,500 rebates on Monday and 3,250 rebates a fortnight later, bringing the total number of September rebates to 9,750. This is nearly triple the original monthly allocation of 3,333, which was snapped up in three days in July and exhausted in under 90 minutes in August.

Altogether, the increased allocation has taken the total number of 2019 rebates to more than 60,000, which represents an increase of more than 50%. There will be two releases each month and the rebate value will drop from $2,225 in January to $1,888, through to the end of the financial year.

The concerns about the functionality of the online application portal, described as a “dog’s breakfast”, has been heeded by the Government too. In an attempt to reduce the challenges in the application process, retailers will be able to lodge final online quotes through the portal at any time, reducing pressure on the system.

While the industry has welcomed the Government’s changes, the effect is yet to be seen. As soon as the technical problems are resolved, the spotlight will be on Solar Victoria’s rebate counter and the speed at which the expended offer is exhausted amid pent-up demand.