Towards the end of August 2019, the Labor government increased the number of solar rebates in Victoria by three times. This was in response to criticism that the previous rebates level (3,333 with a value of $2,225) restricted the growth of PV market as compared to other states; bankrupting small-scale solar installers. This was widely reported in the media; leading to public protests and disagreements.
As a result, for September and October, the state government, in consultation with clean energy council (CEC), agreed on a total of 9,750 and 6,500 rebates respectively. There is also a 50% increase in rebates number throughout the remaining 2019-2020 fiscal year. Furthermore, there is also a relaxation to digital solar application process to enable local PV contractors to file paper works (retailer quotes) offline.
Within the first two days of month, the entire initial slot of rebates (3,259) for September was absorbed by the market. The next slot was opened to the public on September 17. This second slot of rebates was entirely consumed within 15 minutes. Whether this is a positive or negative response may depend on the perspective. The hike in rebates number definitely indicates a progress in the Solar Homes scheme. However, this “flash sale” type rebate absorption also leaves numerous solar installers unhappy as their clients were unable to procure them. In fact, this is was the preliminary issue that the rebates hike was supposed to solve.
Costing over $1.3 billion, Victoria Solar Rebates scheme, Solar Homes, was widely successfully. It resulted in a surge in solar uptake in the state. Over 33,000 households installed rooftop solar systems in the first year. However, since April, a cap in solar subsidies was introduced to control the programme expenses. This cap led to decline and bankruptcy of numerous small-scale solar business owing to the waiting period for rebate applications that resulted in pending installs and client cancellations. The larger multi-state solar installation companies have sufficient buffer to counter the possible sales dip resulting from this. Therefore, they may be able to safely cruise through this. The next rebates slot open on 1st October.