Non-profit organisation, Clean Energy Council (CEC) said the WA solar industry has been dealt an “unexpected blow” by the Barnett Government, with the “sudden closure” of their feed-in-tariff.
Released on Monday, the new scheme designed to help residents recover the purchase cost of their renewable energy system has been suspended after reaching its quota.
Energy Minister Peter Collier said the scheme’s popularity had led to the installation quota being reached quickly and it will now be suspended.
“Under the scheme, more than 65000 homes will be generating their own renewable electricity which will add an extra 150 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to the grid,” Mr Collier said.
“The scheme was so popular that to meet demand the Government increased the original $23 million budget allocation to $127 million."
Mr Collier said this quota has now been reached and it will be suspended from the first of August – applications already received or postmarked before that day will be accepted – but there will be no more applications processed until further notice.
Feed-in tariff payments will continue for those residents already on the scheme for the remainder of their 10-year subsidy payment period.
Synergy and Horizon Power will also continue buying excess electricity fed into the grid from all residential renewable systems under the government’s Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme.
Mr Collier said that, despite the suspension, people would still be able to pay off their systems well within the 10 years, as was the schemes original intention.
“Wholesale prices of renewable energy systems have halved in the past 12 months which has resulted in greater affordability and means customers will be able to recover the purchase cost of their systems much quicker,” the Minister said.
“In addition, the capacity of the average renewable system being installed has almost doubled in the past year.”
CEC said changes to the Commonwealth’s solar incentives, as well as the state’s decision to reduce the feed-in-tariff – had contributed to the spike in applications.
However the rush by consumers to sign up has lead to closure of the feed-in-tariff, Mr Warren said.
“Access to the best incentives unfortunately appears to have been used as an excuse to shut down an industry which was on track to stabilise under the lower incentives, as was the experience in other states,” he said.
The closure of the tariff, without an alternative scheme in place could threaten jobs in the industry, Mr Warren said.
“The solar industry continues to seek policy certainty so that it is not at the mercy of knee-jerk reactions,” he said.