The Greens reveal $2.85b plan to take us off the grid
MORE than 34,000 Sunshine Coast homes could receive up to $5000 each to install battery storage to support their solar systems in the first major federal election commitment made here during the 2016 campaign.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters will launch the party's policy of tax incentives to encourage grid independence on Thursday at Caloundra.
Costed at $2.85 billion by the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Greens expect the five-year program to provide 10Kwh of energy to each of 1.2 million homes
Funding would come from the withdrawal of accelerated depreciation concessions for fossil fuel intensive industries.
Energy Networks Association CEO John Bradley told delegates at Energy Networks 2016 in Adelaide the industry must execute a rapid transformation in the energy system without compromising the delicate balance of affordability, sustainability and reliability.
Mr Bradley said customers - not utilities - were likely to be responsible for up to $400 billion in expenditure decisions in rooftop solar and battery storage by 2050.
The ENA represents Australian electricity networks and gas distribution businesses.
Senator Waters said battery storage systems would reduce night-time peaks in grid consumption and stall the need for expensive upgrades to networks.
The Greens' announcement will be made as the party endorses candidate Tony Gibson in Fisher and Sue Etheridge in Fairfax.
Mr Gibson scored 16% of the total primary vote running for mayor of the Sunshine Coast this year, including between 21.99% and 14.34% in divisions that fall within the Fisher boundaries.
Ms Etheridge ran in Division Five, collecting 15.93% of the vote.
"The Sunshine Coast certainly lives up to its name by embracing solar energy," Senator Waters said.
"Out of 150 electorates nationally, the Sunshine Coast electorates of Fisher and Fairfax are both in the top 25 with the most solar households.
"Our plan will support the 18,969 households in Fisher and the 15,060 households in Fairfax which already have solar installed, to add battery storage, as well as encouraging many more to install solar and battery storage.
"Battery storage allows solar energy to be stored for use at night and on rainy days, reducing demand in peak periods, which lowers electricity bills for everyone and reduces the need for costly grid upgrades to cater to high demand in peak periods."
The policy provides a 50% refundable tax credit for individuals to assist with the cost of household solar energy storage systems.
Home owners would get up to half the cost of their battery storage system covered, up to a maximum of $5000 in the first year of the program.
The program would run for five years and the amount of the credit would taper off to $1500 by 2021, reflecting an anticipated decline in battery storage costs.
A grant scheme would also be available for 20,000 low-income households in each year of the five-year program.
Business investment in battery storage would be supported by allowing depreciation for tax purposes over an accelerated period of three years. Up to 30,000 businesses could be supported by the measure.
Mr Gibson said the plan gave solar users more independence.
"With battery storage, households and businesses have more control over the solar power they generate, as they can store energy collected in the heat of the day to use when they need it most," he said.
Ms Etheridge said similar government support for battery storage existed in California, Japan, New York and Germany.
"Battery storage is taking off globally and here on the Sunshine Coast some households are already installing battery storage,'' she said.
"We want to put battery storage in reach for every Sunshine Coast household and business.
"Our battery storage plan would be funded by removing taxpayer-funded subsidies for fossil fuel companies and is part of our national clean-energy transition plan to create tens of thousands of new jobs and to act on global warming."
Green policies have become increasingly relevant with polls now suggesting minor parties and independents may control the balance of power in both the House of Representatives and the Senate after the July 2 federal election.