The launch of Australia’s first solar energy consumer rights group, the growing number of home solar power users will now have a voice. Solar Citizens has been formed to protect the interests of more than 2.5 million solar owners against changes in laws and policies by governments and power companies.
According to figures from State-owned electricity retailer Synergy, about 2500 people are installing solar panels every month in Perth and the South West. Synergy estimates about 112,000 of its customers, have photovoltaic cells compared with just 1000 households that had them in July 2008.
Solar Citizens manager Geoff Evans said WA was home to Australia's top solar city, Mandurah, where there were more than 6500 installations, the biggest concentration of any suburb in Australia. Dr Evans said it was important to protect the investment of these people and to make it as desirable as possible for more people to switch to solar power.
To date, ordinary Australians have together invested $8 billion in solar panels for their homes. But it's an investment that is under threat, he added
Dr Evans said State governments and power companies were considering policies that would effectively discriminate against solar users. He said that in Queensland, the competition authority had recommended higher daily service rates for solar owners. In Tasmania, the grid was expected to be privatised with no decision on what would happen to existing solar systems and in NSW, power companies were buying solar power and reselling it at three times the price.
Solar owners are being discriminated against - governments should be doing everything they can to encourage renewable energy initiatives like solar and not bowing down to the power companies.
Woodlands resident and geologist Justin Brown had 16 solar panels installed on his roof two years ago and signed up to Solar Citizens. There needs to be stability in the sector so that people can buy solar panels with the confidence and certainty that they will get a return from their investment, said Mr Brown.