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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Energy and Water Supply
    The Honourable Mark McArdle

    Changes to Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme Announced

    Minister for Energy and Water Supply
    The Honourable Mark McArdle

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Changes to Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme Announced

    Changes to Queensland’s Solar Bonus Scheme announced today will cap the $54 per year every household must pay for some homes to have cheaper solar power.

    Effective from midnight on 9 July 2012, Queensland’s Solar Bonus Scheme will be amended for new applications. A review of the scheme will also take place.

    Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said the Solar Bonus Scheme, which started in 2008, had met its objectives of stimulating the local solar PV industry and helped make solar energy more affordable for many Queenslanders.

    “Rising future costs associated with delivering the scheme means change is essential to protect Queenslanders from significant power bill increases,” he said.

    “The Commonwealth Government’s energy white paper found solar schemes were increasing energy costs for energy consumers who could not afford to install solar PV panels.”

    The Minister said modelling of the current solar bonus scheme showed it would cost every household $54 a year by 2014/15. This would cost Queensland about $1.8 billion by 2028 if the bonus scheme remained unchanged at 44 cents per kilowatt hour.

    However, Mr McArdle said the Newman Government would honour its election commitment to continue the Solar Bonus Scheme, which paid householders a feed-in tariff for any surplus energy generated by their rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system that was exported back to the electricity grid.

    Changes to the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme include:

    • The scheme will close to new applications effective from midnight on 9 July 2012;
    • A replacement feed-in tariff of 8 cents per kilowatt hour will apply from 10 July 2012 and end on 1 July 2014, pending a further review of the scheme;
    • Existing Solar Bonus Scheme participants will continue to receive the current 44 cents per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff as long as they continue to meet eligibility criteria; and
    • The Queensland Competition Authority will conduct a review and make recommendations by early 2013 on a subsidy free “fair and reasonable” solar feed-in tariff for Queensland.

    “We need to act now to minimise what Queensland householders and businesses pay for the solar scheme,” Mr McArdle said.

    “This approach will provide certainty for the Queensland solar PV industry and minimise any short-term impacts on investment and jobs.

    "While consumers will still have to weigh up the costs and benefits, the government believes the replacement tariff will still make solar PV systems a viable proposition for many households.”

    Mr McArdle said it was important prospective and existing Solar Bonus Scheme participants were fully aware of how the scheme’s new arrangements would apply to them:

    • Customers who lodge an Inverter Energy System (IES) connection application with an electricity network distributor before midnight on 9 July 2012 will be assessed against eligibility criteria for the existing scheme and, if deemed eligible, will receive the 44 cents per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff rate
    • Customers who lodge an IES connection application after midnight on 9 July 2012 will be assessed against eligibility criteria for the replacement feed-in tariff and, if deemed eligible, will receive the 8 cents per kilowatt hour rate
    • Existing Solar Bonus Scheme participants will continue to receive the current 44 cents per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff so long as they continue to meet eligibility criteria
    • Under changes to legislation planned for later in the year, eligibility for the 44 cents rate will cease if the existing participant ceases to be the electricity account holder for the eligible premises (for example, sells or rents out the property), or fails to install the system by 30 June 2013.

    Changes to the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme will be implemented via legislative amendments to the Electricity Act 1994 and Electricity Regulation 2006.

    Mr McArdle said solar energy uptake in Queensland had grown significantly since the Solar Bonus Scheme started on 1 July 2008.

    “Installed solar PV capacity under the Scheme has increased from just 3.2 megawatts in 2008 to more than 461 megawatts today,” he said.

    “The number of scheme participants has also increased from 1,200 to more than 180,000 today, meaning Queensland has the largest solar PV capacity in Australia.

    “We have also seen rapid growth in the Queensland solar PV industry where strong market demand has seen the cost of solar PV systems more than halve and the number of accredited solar installers rise from 78 in 2008 to approximately 1,100 in 2011.”

    [END] 25 June 2012

    Media Contact: Minister’s Office – 3896 3698