Stampede for solar
FROM next Tuesday in Queensland, householders will find that installing solar power won't be as lucrative as it has been.
The Queensland Government Solar Bonus Scheme allows people to sell power back to the state's electricity network for a feed-in tariff of 44 cents per kilowatt hour. This will be cut drastically from July 10, to eight cents.
Solar system suppliers are being swamped with inquiries as the deadline looms, and prices are being slashed to sign up customers by midnight on July 9.
Don Fraser, Solar Centre Ipswich director and a distributor of Solahart, has seen a 30% lift in product inquiries in the past week.
Solahart is an established retailer, having been in Ipswich for 12 years.
Mr Fraser advises customers not to wait until Monday to apply, because of the last-minute rush and the possibility of missing out.
He says putting in solar is still the answer to steeply rising electricity bills.
"Power companies are paying a bonus on top of the rebate," Mr Fraser said.
"I would hope that they'd continue to pay that bonus.
"I think the price of power will keep going up."
Mr Fraser said buying solar systems at reduced prices could mean sacrificing quality and servicing.
"There's a lot of cheap systems out there," he said.
But on the whole, the uptake of solar in Ipswich had been great, Mr Fraser said.
"I think business will slow down for the rest of July, but it'll come back again," he said.
Energy Minister Mark McArdle said late in June that the bonus scheme, which started in 2008, had met its objectives of stimulating the solar industry and helped make solar energy more affordable for many Queenslanders.
"Rising future costs associated with delivering the scheme means change is essential to protect Queenslanders from significant power bill increases," he said.
The scheme will close to new applications from midnight on July 9.
A replacement feed-in tariff of 8 cents per kilowatt hour will apply from July 10 and end on July 1, 2014, pending a further review of the scheme.
Existing solar bonus scheme participants will continue to receive 44 cents per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff as long as they continue to meet eligibility criteria.