ACCC calls for an end to rooftop solar subsidies


“It’s become economic for many households to install solar panels, so there’s no reason why other users should [now] subsidise this,” Mr Sims said.

He said this scheme effectively sees non-solar households subsidising the installation of solar systems for other households, raising concerns about the fairness of the program.

The ACCC report said the scheme – which is slated to end in 2030 – will add around $36 a year to household power bills this year. This is nearly double the $19 the scheme added to bills in the 2017-18 financial year.

“This is another area where the Australian government could act to have a positive impact on customer bills,” the ACCC report said.

The ACCC monitoring report, released on Friday, follows an inquiry into the electricity sector’s high prices, profits and margins. Following this inquiry, the government tasked the ACCC to carry out an electricity review every six months until 2025.

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New figures from Green Energy Markets said there were almost 43,000 new solar rooftop systems installed in January and February this year.

Despite the ACCC recommendation, both sides of government are in support of continuing the scheme until 2030.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the Scott Morrison government has no intention of abandoning the SRES early, dismissing claims it was increasing power bills.

“We know the real cause of price rises in recent years has been the actions of the big energy companies,” Mr Taylor said.

“The SRES will gradually phase out between now and 2030, as renewables continue to become more cost competitive.”

Opposition Energy spokesman Mark Butler said the SRES was crucial in driving continued solar power uptake.

“More renewable energy isn’t just the best way to cut our carbon pollution, it is crucial to lowering power bills,” Mr Butler said.

“Even the ACCC found that those who accessed solar energy through the SRES scheme had an average saving of $538 per year on their power bills.”

One energy company, which preferred to remain anonymous, said the SRES was successful in encouraging solar uptake but is now an unfair scheme.

“This is now something that everyone pays for but isn’t necessary now, solar doesn’t need subsidies because its costs are lower,” they said.

“It really is low-hanging fruit, it’s something that you could get rid of and provide immediate price relief.”

Covering energy and policy at Fairfax Media.

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