Tasmania (TAS) is going to the polls on May 1, and the opposition Labor Party has put forth a $20 million plan to fund loans for Tasmanians to buy solar and energy storage for their homes and businesses, in an effort to win the election. Not only that, but TAS Labor has also promised $5 million for solar in State schools and $17.5 million for solar installations and energy efficiency upgrades in social housing.
The plan will see $20 million used to fund loans of up to $15,000 for batteries and solar for residential and commercial properties. Labor Leader Rebecca White said that Premier Peter Gutwein and his Liberal Party have fumbled feed-in tariffs and she aims to ensure Tasmanians who invest in solar keep the value of their investment.
“Solar owners have been badly let down by the Liberals and have seen the value of their investment crumble after the feed-in tariffs were cut,” said White. Of course, one could argue that it is hard to keep feed-in tariffs with Tasmania already having achieved 100% renewables.
Nevertheless, White notes that “the controversial new ‘solar tax’ proposed by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) will further hit the value of feed-in tariffs with people set to be charged for exporting solar power to the grid.”
Since this means the reinstatement of feed-in tariffs is now almost impossible, White believes the only solution is battery storage. “Battery storage is the equivalent of receiving a feed-in tariff equal to the retail rate charged by Aurora,” continued the Labor Leader.
These loans would be over ten years in which the first three years would be interest free and a low interest for the rest. “Tasmanians need to feel secure in their solar investment and under the Liberals this has not been the case,” argues White.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia’s 2021 Renewable Superpower Scorecard, Tasmania leads Australia in the energy transition, having already achieved 100% renewables, legislating the largest renewable energy target in the world, and is ambitious in its progress toward green hydrogen production.
Solar for schools and social housing
In addition to the loan plan, TAS Labor is also promising to deliver $5 million for the installation of solar panels at state schools. The savings the panels would provide said schools would also be kept by said schools.
White estimates “that by installing solar panels, each school could save around $22 thousand a year from their power bill. Under Labor’s policy this is a significant saving that can be poured back into increasing the learning outcomes of students at each participating school.”
The Solar Schools Fund is an initiative building on Labor’s $17.5 million plan to install solar panels on social housing.
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