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Byron Shire
December 2, 2023

ACCC casts shadow over solar scheme

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Solar advocates have spoken out about the consumer watchdog’s renewed call for an end to a federal subsidy scheme for small-scale solar projects.

The Australian Corporate and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says when the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) was first launched, solar uptake was more expensive.

The commission says cheaper installation costs combined with state subsidies mean the federal subsidy is no longer needed.

But campaigner for solar lobby group Solar Citizens, Stephanie Gray, disagrees.

Not everyone can afford solar

‘Lower income people, renters and people in apartments struggle to get solar, which is where state government subsidies help,’ she told Bay FM listeners in early October.

Ms Gray said the ACCC’s renewed call to end the SRES as early as 2021 ‘really riled up’ group members, most of whom, she said, already had solar.

‘They really see the benefits of solar and want everyone to have solar,’ said Ms Gray.

‘A lot of households write in to us and say ‘we want to get solar but we can’t afford it’,’ she said.

Energy minister mates with ACCC head

Solar Citizens is petitioning against the proposed change via a broader petition for clean energy on its website.

‘We had a big campaign last year and the federal energy minister Angus Taylor said he’d keep the scheme until 2030,’ said Ms Gray.

So far, the minister is yet to make comment but Renew Economy editor Giles Parkinson told Bay FM listeners last week Angus Taylor was ‘old buddies’ with ACCC head, Rod Sims.

Mr Parkinson said the pair used to work together and were from the ‘same sort of schools, that same sort of thinking’.

As for investing in small-scale solar, Ms Gray said ‘it’s an investment that makes sense, which is why people have done it’.

The campaigner said solar power helped lower bills for everyone because it boosted supply during peak hour, when energy companies used to have to rely on more expensive and non-renewable sources.

To hear interviews with Stephanie Gray and Giles Parkinson in full, go to Bay FM’s Community Newsroom.

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