The Queensland state government has announced that its Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff scheme will be reduced to 8c per kilowatt-hour for those who submit applications after midnight 9 July 2012. The scheme currently offers solar system owners 44c for every kilowatt-hour of solar electricity that they feed into the power grid, making it the most generous in Australia.
The news is a major blow to Queensland’s — not to mention Australia’s — solar industry, which has been subject to sudden stop-start government support across most of its states and from the federal government as well. The most notorious case was the abrupt slashing of New South Wales’ Solar Bonus Scheme — customers were left with 12 hours to submit applications to connect for the generous 60c/kWh gross tariff scheme that was in place at the time.
The Queensland Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff Scheme is the ‘last domino‘ to fall since the election of Queensland’s conservative Liberal Party candidate Campbell Newman as Premier and his subsequent gutting of numerous state clean energy initiatives. (The Solar Bonus Scheme is also the last domino in a different way, being the last truly generous Solar Feed-in Tariff scheme standing in the country.) The state’s Solar Bonus Scheme was supposed to be left untouched, but the Premier seems to have changed his mind with the announcement.
The Queensland government had the following to say about the impending cut in a press release:
Customers who wish to access the 44 cent rate will need to lodge a network connection application before midnight on 9 July 2012 in order to be considered for the existing 44 cent tariff. This provides a notice period of 10 business days for people who have already purchased their PV system on the basis of the 44 cent tariff, but have not yet applied for the Scheme.
Importantly, existing Scheme customers will continue to receive the 44 cents tariff provided they maintain their eligibility for the Scheme.
Eligible customers that apply to join the Scheme from 10 July 2012 will receive 8 cents per kilowatt hour for energy exported to the electricity grid. The 8 cents tariff will be reviewed by 1 July 2013, and end on 1 July 2014.
The Queensland Government will also task the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) to review and make recommendations by early 2013 on a subsidy free “fair and reasonable” solar feed-in tariff for Queensland. This is similar to approaches taken in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. QCA recommendations will inform Government’s mid 2013 review of the Scheme.
For further information please visit the Department of Energy and Water Supply website or call the Queensland Government Customer Service Centre
on 13 43 87.
For more information: Queensland State Government — Solar Bonus Scheme
James Martin II has a BA in Philosophy from Bridgewater State College, and a Master's degree in Environmental Management from the University of New South Wales. He has lived in the US, Japan, and Australia.