Solar power best bet for the bank account

Labor's NSW solar rebate

Labor's NSW solar rebate

According to Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, the major parties should be congratulated for proposals that have embraced solar and batteries as one of the most effective ways to transform our energy system to one that is cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced the 10-year Empowering Homes program, which will unlock a $3.2 billion investment in renewables and give families the opportunity to install solar energy and battery storage systems that will also help cut emissions.

The Berejiklian government is offering zero-interest loans to 300,000 homeowners over 10 years to purchase solar and battery systems.

"Trying to push through all these solar panels and batteries in just four years would absolutely compromise quality and safety for households", the minister told AAP on Tuesday. Noting that consumers prefer grants over loans, it said the plan for interest-free loans to households only filled a gap left by a policy shortfall of late, adding that some commercial providers already offer interest-free loans.

The heat is on in the NSW election campaign with both main parties promising a solar bonanza.

It is estimated that a family with a $500 quarterly electricity bill could save up to $285 a year on their bills while repaying the no interest loans. Households with quarterly energy bills of $875 could save up to $640 a year while repaying the loans, and up to $2390 when the loan is repaid.

Households with quarterly energy bills of $625 could save up to $457 a year while repaying the no-interest loans, and up to $2,200 a year when the loan is fully repaid. This increases to $2,290 annually when the loan is paid down.

This program will take NSW to over a million solar homes.

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Energy Minister Don Harwin said the program was created to bring down the cost of power bills, while allowing more households to access affordable solar technology.

No-interest loans of up to $9000 for a battery system and up to $14,000 for a solar battery system will be available to owner-occupied households with an annual combined income of up to $180,000.

The Smart Energy Council said that the NSW Government would also use the programme to encourage battery manufacturing in NSW.

"It is negligent that in 2019 we have over 70,000 new dwellings in NSW every year and no requirement for solar panels on these developments", Cate Faehrmann, the Greens environment spokeswoman, said. It could also help residents add solar power to more than a million homes by 2029. This will include solar panels, solar hot water systems and energy storage batteries.

Labor has vowed households with earnings under $3450 per week would be eligible for a rebate of up to $2200 to install solar panels.

Importantly, however, it would also push to extend the benefits of distributed solar to those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot install their own rooftop system - a market segment all but ignored in both the Labor and Coalition policies.

And while green and industry groups have welcomed the policy focus, some in the solar industry are critical of the race to subsidise residential solar, when the market is booming on its own, and when they should be focusing on incentives for battery storage, and on facilitating network and regulatory upgrades to accommodate the rapidly changing face of the grid.

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