Who would have thought that a Howard Government Renewable Energy programme would be so successful that the Rudd Government are proposing to throttle it, such that it becomes non viable for many users, potentially putting many businesses up against it after gearing up to implement solar power on peoples houses. Mind boggling.
The solar power industry is predicting a dramatic decline in people installing solar panels, causing millions of dollars in lost business and job losses, after the Federal Government made it harder for households to receive an $8000 rebate.
Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced in the budget that only households earning less than $100,000 would qualify for the rebate, effective immediately.
It follows a surge in applications — up to seven times more a week, businesses say — since the Howard government doubled the rebate from $4000 to $8000 a year ago.
Clearly this is a budget management exercise rather than sensible public policy. If the government wants to promote the development of renewable energy then some combination of lowering the bar for people who want to do the right thing and increasing the tariff that homeowners can get to recover the cost of the system quicker and to promote measures to reduce demand particularly during peak periods.
Monash University senior lecturer Jeff McLean, who co-ordinates a management climate change course, said the means test was a retrograde public policy step.
"It would appear they are thinking of the rebate as middle-class welfare," he said. "What we need is to massively move to renewable energy. You can debate whether panels on roofs are the best way to go, but they are certainly a very public symbol of the move."
We looked into this for our new house. South Australia has the perfect climate for these systems. It would have been a stretch for us, but we were interested in doing the right thing. In the end we decided to reduce our monthly mortgage payment by making a larger deposit. The economics were very weighted to paying down the mortgage rather than supporting renewable energy. That would be even more so with the increase in interest rates since we bought our home.
The growth of many of the franchises built around these rebates will be brought to a very rapid halt. So much for building new capabilities, tackling a global and local issue.
Baffling. Come on Mr Garrett, The Beds are Burning!