Australia Slow take-up of Vic solar plan for renters
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The Victorian government is facing calls to ditch the co-contribution model for renters in its solar panel rebate program to address the scheme's slow take-up.
The $1.3 billion Solar Homes Program was promised by the Andrews government before the 2018 state election, as part of its plan to install panels on 650,000 homes and 50,000 rental properties over 10 years.
The scheme, which subsidises half-price solar panels and takes $1000 off the cost of solar hot water in homes, has proved popular with home owners.
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However, there has been less uptake among rental properties.
As of June 23 this year, 1518 rental properties have had solar panels installed since the scheme began, in figures given to parliament's public accounts and estimates committee.
Many inner-city Melbourne suburbs including Collingwood, Camberwell and Elwood only had one rental with solar panels installed.
Tarneit in Melbourne's west had the most rental solar installations with 34, followed by Pakenham with 21.
Landlords and renters both contribute to the cost, with renters contributing up to 50 per cent of the monthly repayment to a maximum of $19.27 for four years or until the renter leaves the property.
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Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive Emma King says this is a "significant flaw" in the program.
"Renters shouldn't have to pay to increase the value of their landlord's investment property," she said.
"The tenant co-contribution should be abolished, so more people can enjoy the benefits of solar power."
Rental providers can apply for an interest-free loan of up to $1400 to reduce the up-front cost of the solar panel system, under the scheme which is delivered by Solar Victoria.
The opposition says the government is falling behind its target, based on an end date of June 30, 2022 for the interest-free loans.
"Labor needs to install a further 4407 panels every month until June 2022 in order to meet their own target," shadow energy minister Brad Rowswell said.
The government confirmed interest-free loans will continue for the life of the 10-year program.
A government spokesperson said Solar Victoria was engaging Victorian real estate agencies and rental providers to "help landlords understand the benefits of this program while also supporting renters to work with their landlords to see if solar is right for their home".
Last month, an auditor-general review found Solar Victoria has been unable to measure the success of the scheme.
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