Battlers may miss out electricity bill savings

THE Federal Government's push for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop investing in small scale solar power could mean many pensioners and low-to-middle income households miss out on significant electricity bill savings.

Initiatives by some councils such as Darebin City Council in Victoria cave enabled pensioners to install solar power systems with no upfront cost, and repayments made via council rates over ten years.

Repayment levels are structured so most of those participating will save more each year on their electricity bills than they are repaying.

Darebin City Council's initiative has been hugely successful and other councils have expressed a desire to emulate it.

But such initiatives require up-front funding for the organisation offering them - and that's where the CEFC can assist.

However, CEFC investment in Darebin-type initiatives may not be possible if the Federal Government directives for the CEFC to stop investing in small scale solar are followed.

"It's a low-risk investment, the government makes a return on the money and it supports low- to middle-income earners to get solar panels and save money on their bills," said Jeremy Rich, SunEdison Australia's managing director.

SunEdison supplied and installed the systems used in the Darebin Council project.

Since it began, the CEFC has made more than $1.4 billion in total commitments to projects totalling over $3.5 billion in value.

Once fully deployed, its investments are currently expected to earn a portfolio weighted average yield of around 6% across their lifetime.

Investments targeting local councils, manufacturing and agribusiness make up 20% of the CEFC's portfolio.

The CEFC operates under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012, which says:

"The corporation's investment function is to invest, directly and indirectly, in clean energy technologies."

There is no focus on "new, innovative and emerging technologies". In fact, that is the primary function of another body, the Australian Renewable Energy Association (ARENA).

Source: Energy Matters

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