Solar Victoria establishes promised conduit of industry and consumer feedback

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The Industry and Consumer Reference Group (ICRG) has been established to ensure the 10-year program is delivered safely, to the highest of standards and with the fair allocation of created jobs. When the promise of ICRG was made back in late August as an additional sweetener atop the additional rebate allocations and bureaucratic simplification, Solar Victoria pointed to the Group “as a commitment to strengthening our engagement with industry, and to provide a conduit for their feedback to Solar Victoria.”  

The ICRG met for the first time last week as it looks to advise Solar Victoria on matters including safety, standards and quality, consumer protection, technology requirements, product stewardship, future grid requirements, and skills and workforce development. 

Former CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Ivor Frischknecht, has been appointed independent chair of the ICRG. In a statement, Frischknecht said how very pleased he is to be taking part in “developing the Solar Homes program and ensuring industry and consumer interests are not just protected, but that potential opportunities we identify are considered.”  

Solar Victoria CEO, Stan Krpan noted, “Solar Homes has been overwhelmingly popular with Victorians – that’s why it’s important we regularly seek industry and consumer feedback to make the program even better.”  

The Group consists of a multifarious array of representatives from across the industry, from big players like the Clean Energy Council (CEC), Smart Energy Council (SEC), Electrical Trades Union, National Electrical & Communication Association, Consumer Action Law Centre, and Energy Networks Australia to representatives from small, medium and large solar businesses, such as Jack Long of Solar Cutters 

As mentioned above, the ICRG was announced as part of a package of measures to support the Solar Homes program after its rollout had accidentally introduced a boom and bust cycle into the solar industry, effectively bringing the industry to its knees. As one SEC member put it, it is as if the “government has their foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time.” 

Led by the SEC and other solar representatives, including Solar Cutters, the solar industry organised two rallies. The first took place on the steps of Victorian Parliament, with a follow-up rally outside the offices of Premier Daniel Andrews before representatives sat down with government officials ready to allay the program’s unintended consequences.   

The $1.3 billion program is set to deliver rooftop solar systems, solar batteries and solar hot water systems to 770,000 households across Victoria over the next decade.