WA Government backflips on solar subsidy cuts

The Western Australian Government has reversed its decision to retrospectively cut support for solar households.

Premier Colin Barnet announced the backflip over cuts to Western Australia’s solar feed-in tariff after an electoral backlash took the government by surprise.

The Barnett government had planned to cut the solar feed-in tariff from 40 cents per kilowatt-hour to 20 cents by
July 1, 2014, as part of the state’s 2013/14 budget; a move that caused widespread anger from the community and several members of parliament.

The reversal is a step forward for the solar industry, with Clean Energy Council chief executive David Green acknowledging the government had made the right decision.

“The government was quick to acknowledge it had made the wrong decision and you can’t ask for more than that,” Mr Green said.

“About 185,000 people would have been affected by this cut and it obviously caused significant concern among people who invested their hard-earned money to protect themselves and their families from rising power bills.”

The Sustainable Energy Association has also welcomed the decision, with chief executive Kirsten Rose stating, “the Government wildly underestimated the anger this would generate in the community”.

“It was an ill-considered decision in the first place. Reversing it is the right thing to do. Credit to the WA Government for recognising the important role that residential solar PV plays in reducing our demand for non-renewable generated electricity and in reducing the need for costly network upgrades,” Ms Rose said.

In recent years, around 75,000 Western Australian households have invested in solar power technology with the expectation they will in turn, receive a financial return. Not surprisingly, angry solar groups branded the decision to cut solar subsidy cuts a “betrayal” of Western Australian individuals and businesses, with lobby group Solar Citizens immediately collecting 8800 signatures from displeased consumers.

The group also referred hundreds of solar owners to politicians who were called, sent emails and directly alerted to the potential for legal action, according to Government News.

Mr Barnett acknowledged his government had made the wrong decision and that it would “fix it”.

“We have listened and we appreciate the commitment that many people have made to take up renewable energy, like solar power,” Mr Barnett said, as reported by Government News.

“We understand that this measure would have had an unfair impact on one section of the community and it has to be reversed.”