Install rooftop solar and get a 20% rate cut?

A local council in Victoria is considering offering rate cuts for residents who install solar over 5KW.

Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula Shire is considering the introduction of a new local government incentive to drive rooftop solar uptake in the region, in the form of a generous discount to annual council rates.

The shire has this week called for feedback from ratepayers on the introduction a 20 per cent rate discount to households that install, replace or upgrade solar systems over 5kW from July this year.

The offer would be open to all households with a capital improved value under $2 million.

Mornington Shire Mayor Simon Brookes says that while more than 20% of residential dwellings in the local government area have already installed solar, there are plenty of households that are yet to invest – including rentals.

“Early adopter households have likely received generous rebates from the state and/or federal government, but for those who are yet to install solar these rebates do not cover all the costs,” Brookes said in a statement on Monday.

“That’s where we believe our rate discount will give households and landlords a further incentive to opt for solar.”

“The primary aim of it is to reduce power bills for our community,” Brookes told 3AW on Tuesday morning. “[We want] to get the next level of people [to invest in solar] … particularly people who may have investment properties they’re renting out,” he said.

Brookes says the proposed solar discount offers no financial benefit or drawback to the Shire, with its cost to be covered by a differential rate – that is, by distributing the difference of the rate cut to households who do not opt-in or are ineligible to receive the discount.

This will no doubt be one of the sticking points of the proposal – and was duly jumped upon by two of Melbourne’s most popular morning radio news hosts.

“Would that be fair?” asked 3AW’s Tom Elliott. “Let’s say someone already had a property with an old set of solar panels, their rates could go up … but invest in a new set, the rates go down? They’ve both got solar panels on their houses…”

Brookes says this is a valid question, and one that will no doubt come up in feedback to council. But he also notes that if 1000 properties were to take up the solar offer, the average increase in rates across the remaining properties has been estimated at about $3 a year.

“So yes, I’m not not dismissing that concern. But in the overall scheme of things, it’s not a significant burden on the other ratepayers,” Brookes told 3AW’s Elliott.

“Our calculations predict very low increase in rates for those not opting in,” Brookes said in an earlier statement.

Over on ABC Radio Melbourne, Raph Epstein asks if rooftop solar incentivisation is something local councils should be doing, or should they leave that to other governments.

“We just thought it was it was worth testing the water,” Brookes responded. “We thought that it would be good to encourage – particularly with some of the challenges facing our power system – to encourage more people to install solar panels.

“There are technologies out there that are emerging, and will in the future, to allow a more … dispersed power generation system as the grid transitions .. from a centralised sort of model.

“So this this gets people into the into that mix and and helps the future proof our power supply.”

Consultation is open from 19 February – 12 April:

This article was first published by One Step off the Grid. You can read it here.

Sophie Vorrath
Editor, One Step Off the Grid
April 18, 2024
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