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The package includes $191 million to extend the solar homes program to provide up to 42,000 additional rebates over a four-year period.
Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said a total of 140,000 households would be able to install solar panels with no upfront cost over the next two years and small businesses were also included.
The budget package also includes a solar battery rebate for 17,500 Victorian households over the next three years.
The solar panel program has proven popular since its introduction in 2018, with demand in the Victorian community far outstripping the scheme’s initial cap of 24,000 households over a nearly 12-month period.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the program was offering 65,000 rebates this financial year and 75,000 in the next financial year.
“There is a massive build-up of demand for this. Our aim is to meet that demand,” she said.
There will be 7500 battery rebates available in the current financial year.
Dr Nick Aberle from environmental lobby group Environment Victoria said; “This is the biggest ever boost to energy efficiency by a state government.”
“The clean jobs package announced by the Victorian Government today is a smart investment which will be critical to improving the health of Victorians, generating thousands of jobs and tackling climate change,” said the Climate Council’s CEO, Amanda McKenzie.
“Energy efficiency upgrades will be made available to those on low-incomes and renters, which will help to protect the health and wellbeing of many Victorian families during the summer and winter months, and save them money on their power bills,” she said.
Andrew McCarthy, the CEO of RACV Solar, said the huge take-up of renewables could be attributed to a consistent government approach to supporting renewable energy development.
“What it means is when you support renewable energy investment and particularly battery storage, which is the next stage of the evolution of the grid, you see those benefits flow through to all sectors of the economy,” he said.
Ms D’Ambrosio said with more people spending time at home during the pandemic, energy bills had soared and the package also included a one-off $250 power bill relief payment for eligible concession-card holders.
The program, through the government’s Victorian Energy Compare website, starts in February next year and is expected to provide bill relief to an estimated 950,000 households, she said.
“Not only are we slashing power bills for families, we’re putting money back in the pockets of Victorian families, we’re creating, supporting around 4000 jobs, about 1500 of which are new jobs,” she said.
Low-income earners will be able to replace their old gas, wood or electrical heaters with new energy-efficient appliances under a $33 million program.
The program is expected to save 250,000 households almost $1000 rebate off a $1700 reverse cycle heating and air-conditioning system.
“They actually are energy guzzlers and the bills people receive by using those inefficient and old systems is something we want to remove,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
The package also provides energy-efficiency upgrades to 35 social housing units across the state, targeting the homes and renters in greatest need.
Liberal Party opposition leader Michael O’Brien said anything that reduced power bills, which he argued had “gone through the roof” under the Labor government, was welcomed.
He said the $250 power bill relief payment on offer for eligible concession card holders could be more generous.
By David Twomey
Source Eco NewsNovember 19, 2020