Victoria’s Andrews Government on the weekend proffered 15,000 solar rebates for small businesses, as it seeks effective ways to help them recover from the extended lockdowns and resulting revenue losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Solar for Business Program is an extension of the Victorian Labor Government’s Solar Homes program, which has found its rooftop balance after a teetering start and accelerated the Victorian rooftop-solar count to more than 510,000 residential systems in January this year.
Minister for Solar Homes, Energy, the Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, celebrated the launch of the program at a photo opp with Craig Ross of Dandenong-based small business CR Electrics, who already has solar on the roof of his premises. She chatted with Ross, and with Mathew Delaney from Advanced Energy Management, who designed and installed CR Electrics’ solar system.
“Solar panels are helping Craig save on his power bills, allowing his business to recover from COVID-19 and contribute to our climate revolution,” wrote the Minister in a Facebook post.
Businesses with fewer than 20 employees and operating from owned non-residential premises will be eligible for a rebate of up to $3,500 on solar systems of up to 30 kW, if supplied by retailers and installers registered with the Solar Homes Program.
The 15,000 business rebates will be spread over three years, and eligibility will soon be expanded to include business operating from rental premises.
They apply only to installations which occur after the formal opening of applications in May, and businesses can register their interest in advance online.
Energy efficiency measures plus solar to drive down business costs
A further $5 million is being provided by the Government, through the Small Business Energy Saver Program, to help small businesses replace inefficient equipment: swapping old electric water heaters, with gas, solar or heat-pump options, for example; replacing old upright fridges, freezers and chilled display cabinets with more efficient models; ditto for outdated air conditioners; and so on across a range of eligible items.
This Program is described in terms of a “bonus” that discounts the cost of upgrades; the full amount discounted will depend on the amount and type of approved equipment upgraded.
By way of example, “Replacing an old electric hot-water unit with a medium-sized heat pump could cost a local hairdresser $840 instead of $4,000”, says the Small Business Energy Saver website, which also provides a link to accredited providers.
“These new programs will drive down energy costs and help boost Victoria’s economic recovery,” asserted D’Ambrosio.
They form a newly released part of more than $46 million set aside in the 2020-21 State Budget to support clean energy and energy efficiency for small businesses.
This latest solar boost follows on the heels of last week’s Victorian Government announcement of $8.8 million to power more of the state’s schools with rooftop solar.
Like the Solar For Business Program, the Greener Government School Buildings program is an extension of a previous successful pilot.
In total, the program is aiming to install 8,200 kW of solar PV on public schools, saving the public purse some $2 million a year in energy costs, and displacing 11,500 tonnes of carbon emissions per annum.
Each Victorian energy initiative has multipurpose goals in terms of boosting the economy by lowering costs, providing jobs in retail and installation of solar, and driving towards the state goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 to mitigate climate change.
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