Premier Barry O’Farrell to announce solar hardship scheme

Energy Matters0

Premier Barry O’Farrell to announce solar hardship scheme


Speculation .. it is expected NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell will back away from his decision to axe the solar scheme subsidy today. Picture: Tim Hunter Source: The Daily Telegraph

HARDSHIP provisions will be introduced to help those worst affected by the NSW government’s decision to slash the solar bonus scheme, Premier Barry O’Farrell has announced.

Mr O’Farrell says his government will provide financial assistance to some of the tens of thousands of consumers who have installed solar panels under the scheme.

The government announced earlier this month that the feed-in tariff for electricity supplied by domestic solar installations to the state grid will be cut from 60 cents to 40 cents per kilowatt hour.

Details of the hardship previsions had yet to be worked out, Mr O’Farrell told reporters on Tuesday.

Energy Minister Chris Hartcher will now consult groups representing pensioners, welfare recipients, farmers and self-funded retirees to put the package together.

However, the tariff cut will stay in place, with the government hoping to introduce retrospective legislation by the end of June.

“We want those who invested in the scheme to get a fair return while protecting families across NSW from higher electricity prices,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“There is no reason they should suffer financial hardship as a result of Labor’s incompetence and mismanagement in putting this scheme together.”

Mr O’Farrell has been under pressure from solar panel owners, the industry and his own MPs over the retrospective legislation, which was designed to reign in a cost blowout in the former government’s solar scheme.

The changes would save $471 million, which he says would help make up part of a $759 million funding shortfall.

The changes would also protect average energy consumers from a $170 increase in their power bill over the life of the scheme, which winds up in 2016, Mr O’Farrell has said.

But scheme applicants, many of whom live in coalition-held electorates, have said they would struggle to pay for their investment under the reduced tariff.

The announcement of hardship provisions came less than an hour before a coalition joint party room meeting, where angry MPs were expected to vent their anger at the legislation.

Mr O’Farrell said the hardship measures would address concerns of his coalition colleagues, and of the crossbenchers needed to get the solar changes through the NSW upper house.

“This addresses the issues that members have raised with me about the hardship provisions. That’s where the concern has mostly been expressed to me, whether by crossbenchers … or members of my own team,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“This is a package that delivers fairness. Fairness to those in the scheme, and fairness for other electricity users across the state.

“This is about ensuring the government is fair, it’s about ensuring the government reigns in the costs, it’s about ensuring the government doesn’t push those costs onto other families.”

Thousands of complaints have been received by MPs and the Shooters Party have vowed to block the change in the upper house ahead of an anticipated fiery party room meeting on the issue which was due to occur this morning.

46 comments on this story

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.