Both the New South Wales Government and the Opposition made clean energy announcements over the 9–10 February weekend, demonstrating that major parties are taking solar and storage seriously ahead of the upcoming election.

NSW Premier, Gladys Berejklian announced the introduction of the NSW Liberal and Nationals’ ten year Empowering Homes program, which will provide no-interest loans to residents for the purchase of solar batteries and solar power storage systems.

The program will be offered to up to 300,000 eligible householders over a period of ten years if the Berejklian Government is still in power following 23 March.

Eligible applicants will need to be owner-occupiers and have an annual combined household income of up to $180,000. The period of the interest-free loan is yet to be announced.

Ms Berejiklian said, “Embracing new technology is a good way for many people to access cheaper energy — putting more money back into the pockets of hard working households.”

NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said that bringing down the cost of power bills is a priority of the NSW Liberals and Nationals.

“Families across the state will be able to take control of their energy bills and potentially save thousands of dollars a year,” Mr Perrottet said.

NSW Energy Minister, Don Harwin, said the program was designed to bring down the cost of power bills, while allowing more households to access affordable solar technology.

“More than 400,000 households and small businesses in NSW are already benefiting from solar power. This new program will help up to a further 300,000 households over ten years to reap the benefits of solar with no interest loans for solar energy and battery storage systems,” Mr Harwin said.

According to the NSW Liberal and Nationals’ party, it is estimated that a family with a $500 quarterly electricity bill could save up to $285 a year on their bills while repaying the no interest loans. These savings could increase to more than $2000 a year when the loan is fully repaid.

Households with quarterly energy bills of $625 could save up to $457 a year while repaying the no-interest loans, and up to $2200 a year when the loan is fully repaid. Households with quarterly energy bills of $875 could save up to $640 a year while repaying the loans, and up to $2390 when the loan is repaid.

The NSW Opposition has also made solar-related announcements, sharing plans to slash the power bills of 500,000 families by providing assistance with the installation of solar.

If elected on 23 March, a NSW Labor Government would offer up to $2200 for these families to install solar in their homes, with means testing also set at $180,000 per household.

Industry response

The Smart Energy Council has “strongly” welcomed the the opposition’s solar policy announcement.

CEO, John Grimes, said, “This will be a massive boost for families struggling with power bills and a real flip for the NSW solar industry.

“It’s fantastic for families, great for jobs and good news for our climate.

“We call on the NSW Government and Opposition to adopt policies that encourage families to purchase smart batteries that will help families store their energy for later use and also strengthen the electricity grid.”

The Smart Energy Council also warmly welcomed the following NSW Government announcement, saying that it will be “a real boost for families wanting to slash their power bills with solar and batteries”.

Smart Energy Council CEO, John Grimes, said, “This announcement is a welcome boost for families and for the solar and battery storage industries. We welcome the focus on manufacturing and look forward to seeing more details.The NSW Government is not surprisingly distancing itself from the Morrison Government’s sorry position on renewable energy.

“The Smart Energy Council is very pleased that both the NSW Government and Opposition understand that solar and battery storage saves money and creates jobs. We look forward to continuing to work with all political parties to deliver smart energy policy.”

According to Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, the major parties should be congratulated for proposals that have embraced solar and batteries as one of the most effective ways to transform our energy system to one that is cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.

“The zero-interest loans of up to $15,000 for solar and storage systems proposed by the government would provide people with the means to store energy from the sun, for use when it is most needed. As with other renewable energy technologies, one of the biggest barriers for consumers in taking up energy storage is the up-front cost,” Mr Thornton said.  

“NSW Labor’s strong commitment to support an additional half a million households in the state with solar rebates of up to $2200 per household over the next decade will also ensure a vibrant industry and provide expanded opportunities for solar businesses and installers.

“It is very important that the announced programs contain appropriate safeguards to ensure the systems that are being installed are of a high standard of safety and quality. This will be an extremely important element of both programs, and we look forward to working with whoever wins the next election to ensure that the safety of consumers is of the highest priority.

“The announcements from the government and the Labor Party are in line with the policy directives released by the Clean Energy Council last year.

“These policies are a great start, and we look forward to more announcements in the lead-up to the election.”

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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