NSW investing in solar, but not for all
23 October 2019 at 5:26 pm
A scheme that will see solar panels installed on 3,000 low-income NSW homes has advocates worried
Renewable energy advocates have criticised the NSW government’s solar panel plan for low-income housing, saying millions of disadvantaged people will still miss out on the benefits of solar energy.
The state government’s $15 million solar trial will see 3,000 eligible homes in five parts of the state selected to have free three kilowatt solar systems installed in their homes.
To be eligible, applicants must hold a valid pensioners card, own their own home, and be willing to give up the Low Income Household electricity rebate for a decade.
Successful applicants are expected to cut their power bills by $300 a year and add over eight megawatts of renewable energy to the grid.
Kristy Walters, director of the Solar for All campaign, told Pro Bono News that while this was a step in the right direction, it was not enough.
“We know there’s about a million of those households that are currently locked out of solar, so more than 3,000 homes is needed,” Walters said.
The campaign, which launched at the start of the month, is calling for the NSW government to help fund “solar gardens”, a centralised system that allows people to purchase or lease panels, with the electricity generated then credited to the customers power bill.
Read more: Solar in the sunshine state outshines coal
Walters said this would give renters, low income houses, and people living in apartment blocks, access to the energy source they are currently locked out of.
“Electricity bills are only going up and solar is one sure way that you can reduce your electricity bills, and for a lot of people, it’s just not possible because of a series of barriers that they’re facing,” she said.
She also said the criteria of having to give up the electricity rebate for 10 years was a concern.
“So if for some reason a successful applicant were to move house, then they wouldn’t be able to access it [the rebate] again and would no longer have the solar panels either,” she said.
Separately, the City of Sydney unveiled on Tuesday a $60 million renewables deal that will see the city meet all of its electricity needs via wind and solar from July 2020.
All council-owned buildings will be powered by renewable energy, with the move projected to save the city up to half a million dollars over the next 10 years.
Energy will be purchased from the Sapphire Wind Farm, the Bomen Solar Farm, and an NFP community solar scheme on the southeast NSW coast.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the agreement would generate jobs, support the state’s drought-stricken regional areas, and further cut harmful emissions by around 20,000 tonnes a year.
“The science is clear, without urgent, co-ordinated and global action to reduce emissions in the next decade, we face a very high risk of triggering runaway climate change,” Moore said.
“The city has been certified carbon neutral since 2011 and will now achieve its commitment to reduce emissions by 70 per cent six years ahead of our 2030 deadline.”