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The sad fact is, there will always be dodgy operators out in the world in all industries.  Yesterday I saw a news article about a solar company who has been removed from the list of businesses allowed to access the Victorian Solar Homes rebate due to installing systems in an unsafe manner.

Government intervention in the form of rebates has the consequence of creating opportunity for operators only in for the buck to come and take advantage of the extra demand generated. We saw it in the Home Insulation Program back in 2010 that resulted in a Royal Commission and the deaths of four young men. 

There are lots of stories out there about dodgy solar companies that hurt both the industry and many of the majority of installers who do the right thing.  Industry bodies and government audits do help in protecting consumers and upholding the standards of the industry but is it enough?

Perhaps rather than continuing with these subsidies as well as the subsidies to big fossil fuel burning industries, the Government could redirect these dollars into building the infrastructure necessary to actually transition energy supply from fossil fuel burning, inefficient centralised power stations into investments in a decentralised smart grid using a combination of renewable energy sources supported by renewable energy storage systems like batteries, hydrogen plants and potential energy towers.

To make a transition like this however, there actually needs to be leadership and a willingness from the top levels of Australian Government. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, Victoria’s energy minister is moving to bypass the federal government. Lily D’Amborosio will use the COAG Energy Council in November to say “Victoria is not willing to wait on the sidelines when it comes to planning for our energy future – which is why we’re breaking free from the federal government’s outdated rules and getting it done ourselves”

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has been pushing to extend the life of coal fired power stations. He is at odds with Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott as well as state energy leaders. 

In a report from the ACCC that advocates removing the subsidies, 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.”

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