Sunpower Solar Panels

A collective sigh of relief has occurred for solar power owners in Western Australia with news of the controversial ‘solar tax’ being ruled out by WA’s Premier, Colin Barnett.

Here at Solargain, we’re glad that logic has prevailed.

If you hadn’t heard, the proposed tax would have resulted in an additional $800 in grid connection charges for the state’s 175,000+ solar households.

The tax was originally raised last December by Lyndon Rowe, chairman of Synergy, based on the idea that annual charges on solar households don’t reflect the actual cost of being connected to the network.

Opponents of the tax (and there are many!) have argued that this is merely a scapegoat for Synergy’s recent budget losses, especially in light of its overestimation of household electricity demands.

Residential solar power is something that has been encouraged and subsidised by the Government for many years. The public have responded positively to this scheme; it has created thousands of jobs and is helping reduce carbon emissions.

Solar power’s success in WA has been acknowledged by Barnett.

‘This government has had a policy of subsidising and encouraging solar panels,’ Barnett told Parliament.

‘Yes, the uptake was incredibly strong, which meant it cost the government a lot more money than we anticipated. But the policy was to encourage solar panels, and they are prevalent right across Western Australia. It has succeeded.’

The thought of now penalising Australian families who installed solar panels in good faith hit a nerve and resulted in much campaigning, including from solar advocacy group Solar Citizens.

Following the announcement of the proposed tax, Solar Citizens began a petition against it – signed by close to 7,000 supporters.

‘This backdown on the proposed “solar tax” ensures a bright future for renewable energy in Western Australia,’ said Solar Citizen’s national campaign director Claire O’Rourke.

‘Solar is good for household budgets, drives good local jobs and can spark economic growth, particularly vital as the state budget is hit by the end of the mining boom.’

WA’s good news comes after a similar result in NSW.

When an extra tariff for solar power owners was introduced there last October, the public was similarly outraged and eventually the three NSW networks released a statement revoking any extra tariff plans.

All in all we’re glad to see that people, including thousands of our own customers, won’t be penalised for choosing solar power in WA. Instead, we believe that the Government (at all levels) should continue to encourage solar power investment as a rewarding and environmentally responsible decision. Because it is!

Solargain