Spender's 'People Power Plan' gains support as a budget must

Pressure mounts on the Government to underwrite rooftop solar, home batteries, and electrification amid growing concerns a growing energy divide is being weaponised to delay climate action.

Pressure is mounting on the federal Albanese government to underwrite the uptake of rooftop solar, home batteries and efficient electric home appliances, amid concerns a growing energy divide is being “weaponised” to delay climate action.

Advocacy groups have joined independent MPs to call on for federal Labor to use its May Budget to support at least half a million homes to electrify over the next three years, with a particular focus on renters, apartment-dwellers and low-income households.

The joint appeal – backed by Rewiring Australia, the Smart Energy Council and the Australian Conservation Foundation, among others – follows the launch earlier this month of the People Power Plan by independent Member for Wentworth, Allegra Spender.

The People Power Plan calls for the establishment of three main pillars of government support, including for households that so far have been left behind in the shift to solar and electric, including those in regional Australia.

The plan is proposed to be partly funded by a tax on the windfall profits of the gas industry, securing the capital necessary to help close to half a million homes electrify over the next three years. But pressure is mounting for targeted funding to be set aside.

Spender will move a motion in parliament on Monday urging the Albanese government to fund a People Power Plan at May’s budget – a move that has the political backing of Zali Steggall MP, Helen Haines and Senator David Pocock.

“We believe now is the time to go beyond quick fixes and cash handouts – and to help households permanently reduce their power bills with rooftop solar, home batteries, more efficient electrical appliances, and improved home energy performance,” the letter says.

“Households can wipe out their electricity bill entirely with rooftop solar and a battery – with solar alone saving between $822-$1,350 per year. Even without solar, replacing gas appliances for more efficient electrical alternatives reduces power bills by between $514 and $1,594.

“However… more than half of households are locked-out of this incredible opportunity. … It is not fair that they should miss out. We are … concerned that their pain is being weaponised by those who seek to promote unviable solutions and delay climate action,” the letter says.

“We are also concerned that, without a specific stream of support for people in regional and rural Australia who are living in Renewable Energy Zones or close to new transmission lines, community support for necessary large-scale projects will decline.”

The letter calls for a multi-year additional funding commitment from the government to deliver Spender’s People Power Plan using targeted expenditure that can be scaled up over time.

As well as targeting households traditionally excluded from solar and electrification upgrades, and those in Australia’s regions, the plan also calls for support for regulatory reform, including to prevent households from being locked in to new gas connections and energy inefficient homes.

This article was first published by RenewEconomy. You can read it here.

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