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Solar installer can meet rush in 2009

18/12/2008

Consumers expected to flood orders before solar rebate finishes

The decision by the Federal Government to remove its solar rebates program will mean a huge surge in demand in the next six months before the rebate closes, according to Andrew Cross, national service manager for O’Donnell Griffin, which is installing panels nationally on behalf of Origin Energy.

He moved to reassure customers that the Origin/ODG installation program would be able to cope with the increase in demand. ODG/Origin offers Australia’s only national installation program that is ordered and paid for via the Origin website and installed within 12 weeks almost anywhere in Australia.

This has made the group one of Australia’s leading solar panel installation operations.

Mr Cross encouraged all people under the $100,000 income threshold to immediately investigate their options and to place an order before the Government had another change of heart.

He said the jump in demand would come from people who qualified for the $8000 rebate scheme, available to households earning less than $100,000 annually.

The new market-driven scheme may dent this part of the market after the rebate closes in the next financial year, he said.

“However, it will also mean better access to some Government subsidies for households outside the means-tested rebate,” he said. “In the end, what we are going to see is a change in the financial model of how rooftop solar panels are delivered in Australia.

“It even seems that the actual cost for installations to customers long-term may not change significantly.”

Cross said both Origin and O’Donnell Griffin, in recently launching a national program where customers order the panels direct and can have them installed in 12 weeks, receiving the $8000 rebate if eligible, knew there was pressure on how long the Federal rebate would last.

“There has been a huge pick-up in demand in the past year for domestic solar systems and that can only be a good thing regarding renewable energy targets in Australia,” he said. “But there was also only going to be so much money that could be allocated federally to drive that pick-up.”

The new scheme announced by the Federal Government this week still means that customers ordering new solar systems (of up to 1.5 kilowatts) will receive upfront government hand-outs. Using an REC system (renewable energy certificates), households installing rooftop solar panels will get a “payment” of five RECs worth up to $7,500 each, depending on how much electricity a household generates. The new scheme starts in the new financial year, with the $8000 rebate still available until then.

Cross said that with state governments such as Victoria and NSW launching gross feed-in tariff schemes in the New Year – where households get paid above-retail-rates for surplus electricity they return to the grid – the incentives for embracing this renewable energy remain strong. He also predicts that feed-in tariffs will continue to increase.

He also suggested that the model offered to customers under the new federal regime will see changes such as them being able to pay-off an installation contract over a longer period of time.

* ODG and Origin Energy have teamed together to offer solar grid systems that can be ordered on line, paid for by credit card and can be reducing user’s energy costs within 12 weeks. To order on line go to http://www.originenergy.com.au/2100/Solar-electricity.

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