More cash for solar panel owners | Poll

Bendigo sustainability advocates hope new solar rates will revive waning investment in renewable energy.

From 1 July Victorian households and businesses feeding renewable power back into the electricity grid will see their payment more than double to 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

The Essential Services Commission said the new rate, known as the feed-in tariff, rose because of legislative changes, with the new rate to be calculated in part on the social and health benefits of renewable energy.

Bendigo Sustainability Group member Colin Lambie said the organisation had expected a rise in the rate but had feared it would be a minimal one or two cents per kilowatt hour.

“We are pleased with it. We were not expecting it to be as much as it was and in fact we were preparing to be disappointed,” he said.

Mr Lambie said the new price would be welcome news to local installation companies.

“We have noticed in the past year or two that interest in solar power has waned considerably,” he said.

The latest rate announcement came two months after feed-in tariff rates plummeted, with 67,000 Victorians seeing their rate drop from 20 cents per kilowatt hour to five after a lucrative tariff ended.

Many Victorians also lost a ‘one for one’ tariff, which allows them to trade their solar energy for grid power at night, when the sun was not shining.

“It was not just that feed-in tariffs were dropping but that there was a lot of negative talk in the media that was putting people off,” Mr Lambie said.

Mr Lambie said the new price would help those who wanted to cut down on their bills.

It would also be good for homeowners and others who produced a lot of solar energy but were not often there to use it.

“I’m sitting outside a community hall now. Community halls don’t use a lot of power during the day,” Mr Lambie said.

“The fact (people) might not have been using any halls much during the day and having all that energy going into the grid did not make it an economical investment,” he said.