Victorian solar cash hailed

By Shepparton News

Goulburn Valley Community Energy’s chief executive has hailed a Victorian Government incentive for residents to install household solar panels as a proven measure to drive down power prices.

Geoff Lodge believes areas such as the Goulburn Valley — once known as the solar city — could stand to benefit more than other parts of Victoria.

In contrast, Mr Lodge was highly critical of the Federal Government’s National Energy Guarantee’s transparency and ambition yesterday; on the day Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appeared to back away from plans to legislate climate change targets as part of the policy.

He described the two policies as ‘‘chalk and cheese’’.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced a re-elected Labor government would pay for 650000 homes to get solar panels under a $1.24billion plan where owner-occupiers would get about $4500 to install panels and repay half through their bill savings.

The government says the panels plan could save Victorians up to $900 a year on their energy bills.

While no shortage of factors are at play, Mr Lodge believed the $900 figure was well and truly ‘‘in the ballpark’’ of the sort of savings that could be made.

‘‘I think it’s very appealing,’’ he said of the solar initiative, which, he added, would remove a significant portion of the upfront costs.

‘‘It will make a significant contribution to those considering investing in domestic solar.

‘‘It’s a proven cost-effective investment, and will reliably reduce people’s electricity bills.’’

Mr Lodge said renewable energy investment was proven to reduce the wholesale cost of electricity.

He estimated that a household solar system installed today would broadly-speaking be paid off in four to five years for most households.

And solar systems in northern Victoria would generate more energy than in metro areas.

‘‘People in the Goulburn Valley will get a better return than those in Melbourne, purely from the system generating more electricity,’’ he said.

In a further announcement yesterday, Victorians who swap their old hot water system for a solar one can get a $1000 rebate under a $60million program as the state government seeks to woo voters on cost of living.

The 10-year program starts immediately, Mr Andrews announced yesterday.

The government predicts the systems will save households between $160 to $400 a year in electricity bills.

Both plans will be available to households with a combined income of up to $180000 who live in their own home valued up to $3million.

The hot water rebate has been created so houses who cannot get solar panels because of roof design or shade can still get a reduction in energy bills.

Houses can take part in the half-price solar panels program or the $1000 hot water rebate, but not both.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy was dubious of how much the announcements would save households.

Mr Lodge described the hot water announcement as another opportunity for households to participate in the program, especially those, like many in the Goulburn Valley, who had already installed solar systems.

— with AAP