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Fed: New solar rebate for houses, renters, businesses

By Cathy Alexander
Fri Aug 21 00:46:49 EST 2009

CANBERRA, Aug 20 AAP - All households can get a rebate of up to $7,000 for solar panels under a scheme that passed parliament on Thursday.

And for the first time, there is a rebate for putting panels on the roofs of businesses and rental properties.

The rebate means people will pay about $4,000 to install a small solar array and about $8,000 for a bigger system, according to The Solar Shop installation company.

The federal government has chopped and changed solar panel rebates.

There used to be a rebate of $8,000 but the government introduced an unpopular means test on that, then axed the rebate abruptly in June.

Now there's a new rebate, without a means test - and it's here to stay.

It's tied to the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme, under which 20 per cent of the country's electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020.

The scheme, one of the government's big plans to tackle climate change, passed parliament after Labor and the opposition struck a deal earlier this week.

Conservation groups hailed the passage of the RET, although they were disappointed it was "browned down" in negotiations with the opposition.

Matthew Warren, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, said the solar industry had been waiting for the day the RET passed parliament.

"This will release a lot of pent-up demand across Australian households," he told AAP.

Plenty of wind farms would also get the nod now the RET had been passed, he said.

The government used the RET's passage to put pressure on the opposition to pass the emissions trading scheme (ETS) too.

The opposition voted down the ETS last week. It's due to come before parliament again in November.

Junior climate change minister Greg Combet urged the coalition to take the same approach to the ETS that it did to the RET.

"To their credit, that is what the coalition did in relation to the Renewable Energy legislation; they got their act together, they put their position forward," Mr Combet told ABC Television.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said a deal on the ETS was possible.

"The fact is that we can get an agreement on emissions trading if they are prepared to negotiate with us in good faith," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

"It's amazing what sitting down with people and trying to come to an agreement can give you."

Mr Turnbull conceded the Nationals may split the coalition and vote against any ETS.

"Let's be quite frank about that. It may be that the Nationals, or particularly the Nationals in the Senate, choose to take a different approach," he said.

"If the Nationals in the Senate, for example, choose to vote a different way on the ETS or on some amendments to the ETS, then that's less than ideal but that's their right.

"That's up to them."

While the Nationals do not often vote against the Liberals, the coalition partners split last year over the deregulation of the wheat export market.