Qld Government Solar Rebate and Interest-free Loans
It’s time for a new Solar Rebate Qld! In a previous post, I showed there is no such thing as interest-free solar. In fact, going “interest-free” with companies like Brighte and Certegy will end up costing you more than genuine low-interest loans. It turns out that there is such a thing as a free lunch when the Government is shouting.
Starting June 2018, the Queensland Government will be providing interest-free loans and solar rebates for solar systems and battery storage. The rebate will be available for households and small businesses as part of their Affordable Energy Plan. This post will explain why I was at first a massive cynic of the latest Queensland Government solar rebate, but why I have changed my stance. It turns out I have a vested interest.
We don’t need a Solar Rebate Qld
When I heard the Qld government was offering a solar rebate I was flabbergasted. The Solar industry is booming because solar is a no-brainer. My biggest challenge in business for the last couple of years has been finding the right electricians and apprentices to train up. The only reason we have not trebled in size this year is that training a team of installers to do the job right takes time. Company growth works best organically and the reputable players in today’s solar industry don’t need government stimulus.
Then again, maybe the Affordable Energy Plan is not all about creating work for people like me.
The details of the solar rebate Qld
The Scale of the Solar Rebate Qld
- 3,500 Queensland Government interest-free loans for home solar systems, available in June 2018
- 1,500 Queensland Government interest-free loans and grants for systems with battery storage, available in late 2018.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be a homeowner,
- receive Family Tax Benefit Part B, and
- have a power bill of more than $1,000 over the past six months.
- Small businesses can also apply for the battery grant, but will not be eligible for an interest-free loan.
So it might just be that the “Affordable Energy Plan” is not all about me. It was designed to make energy affordable for those who can’t afford it. I was wondering why they didn’t call it the “Solar Industry Stimulus Plan”.
Limiting the interest-free loan to homeowners who are on “Family tax benefit Part B” means it is focussing on families who are struggling to pay power bills. These households might also struggle to get an honest and affordable loan for solar. A low-income family may have otherwise been conned into the “No interest ever” offer from companies like of Certegy and Brighte.
But there remains a concern. Who is going to install these 5000 solar systems offered by the solar rebate Qld?
Saddle up, solar cowboys!
Whenever the words “Solar rebate Qld” is spoken, the cowboys saddle up to make a quick buck. Is all the hard work of the Clean Energy Council about to be undone?
What could possibly go wrong?
Back in 2008 and early 2009, the Rudd Government introduced the Home Insulation Program (HIP). The government designed the programme to create an overnight surge in consumer investment in ceiling insulation. Almost overnight, 10,000 installation companies sprang up and completed over 180,000 installations within a month. However, the profiteering from less-than-scrupulous operators meant that there were thousands of barely-qualified workers out in the field; installing batts, working around live electrical cables and doing shoddy work. In fact, later reports discovered that over one-third of the entire installations were flawed.
The royal commission found that the blame for the disaster lay with the government’s program. If the government had adequately developed, regulated and implemented the scheme, they would have prevented four deaths and many fires.
The Queensland Government’s precaution
Thankfully, the Qld Government recognised that the Solar Rebate Qld announced just before last year’s election was potentially disastrous. To prevent history repeating itself, they consulted with the Clean Energy Council and put in one important measure to keep the Cowboys out of town. That measure, in a nutshell, is you have to buy off MC Electrical, (or one of the other 30 Clean Energy Council Approved Retailer in Queensland). I told you I had a vested interest.
Clean Energy Council Approved Retailers
The Clean Energy Council Approved Retailer programme is about a solar business adhering to a code of conduct in their dealings with the public. To apply, amongst other things, you can’t have a relevant history with the ACCC or Fairtrade. You can’t be a phoenix company: you cannot be a past director, manager or close relative rising from the ashes of a previous failed solar company.
Well, that just narrowed the field! We were the 24th solar company in Australia to sign the code. As of May 2018, only 61 approved retailers have signed the code nationally.
This Approved Retailer Status is not some badge you get from the back of a cornflakes box. As of May 2018:
- 154 companies have applied to be a CEC approved retailer.
- 24 applications are pending
- The CEC removed five cowboy companies
- Five companies resigned
- The CEC rejected 64 cowboy applications
The Queensland Government has narrowed the field by saying if you want to access their solar rebate, you have to purchase from a Clean Energy Council Approved Retailer. Only 30 of these companies operate in Queensland; only a handful are based in Brisbane.
A motivation for quality solar companies
This is not to say that that only Clean Energy Council Approved retailers are reputable. Neither does it prove our reputation. (SolarQuotes.com helps with that by rating MC Electrical the best in Australia by customer reviews.) Instead, the Qld government has excluded obvious cowboys and Pheonix companies, and in turn motivated reputable companies to join the Approved Retailer programme.
At first glance, the Solar Rebate Qld sounds like an unwanted incentive for solar cowboys. In a time when the solar industry is booming, we don’t need government handouts. However, the government’s motivation is to assist low-income households who struggle with high power bills and can’t afford the upfront costs of solar. The Queensland Government has done well by consulting with the Clean Energy Council. As a result, they have limited the Solar Rebate to 30 CEC approved retailers in Queensland, and motivated other reputable companies to join the programme.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I think you should choose us to install your solar. If you are eligible for “Family Tax Benefit B” and are in South-East Queensland, contact us, and we can keep you updated when the Government announces more details.