Safety concerns delaying solar rebate roll-out

Safety concerns over the installation of hundreds of thousands of solar panels under a New South Wales state government scheme has delayed the rollout of a key pre-election promise.

Premier Gladys Berejikian made a snap announcement in the lead up to the election, to offer 300,000 no-interest loans of up to $14,000 to pay for solar panels and batteries to be fitted on homes.

More than a year on, Energy Minister Matt Kean has finally launched a pilot of the program, limited to the Hunter region.

The NSW government’s solar panel rebate scheme has been delayed. (9News)

That’s despite saying in a June budget update that he expected the systems would be available for installation from Summer 2019-20.

“This is great news for households, and is a great win for our environment,” Mr Kean said.

The small trial and overall delay is due to concerns the mass roll-out of solar panel and battery systems could lead to unqualified tradespeople taking up the jobs, with the potential for another pink batts-style tragedy.

There were also fears people would be given loans without the means to pay them back.

“We want to make sure we can absolutely protect consumers, but also ensure that we install these projects safely,” Mr Kean said.

NSW Minister for Energy Matt Kean. (Edwina Pickles)

Labor energy spokesperson Adam Searle says the pilot program is a “pale imitation” of what was promised at the election.

“If the Government was serious … they would have already had a pilot, evaluated it, and presumably started to roll out the program more generally,” Mr Searle said.

The $14,000 interest-free loans can be paid off over 10 years.

The scheme is means-tested, and is only available to households earning up to $180,000 a year.

The government says households with a yearly power bill of $2000 would save $285 a year, even while making their loan repayments.

Savings skyrocket to more than $2000 a year when the loan is fully repaid.

Sydney families won’t be able to access the scheme for at least another 12 months, after the Hunter region pilot has been assessed.

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