On May 5, the night before the Victorian budget was released, it was revealed that Premier John Brumby's government is proposing to pay households with solar power$0.60 per kilowatt hour for electricity that they feed into the grid. However, this $0.60 will only be paid if households are exporting more energy than they are taking from the grid.
This is despite several months of campaigning by Environment Victoria, the Electrical Trades Union and other environmentalists for the government to adopt the model used in Germany, which gives an incentive to householders to install solar panels by paying for the whole amount of clean energy generated.
Environmentalists and unionists responded on May 8 by organising a 350-strong demonstration on the steps of state parliament.
Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said: "The Victorian government has shunned the experience of 40 countries worldwide and has decided to introduce a scheme that will not drive the necessary uptake of solar. This is a huge missed opportunity and calls into question the government's commitment to taking action on climate change and encouraging green collar jobs."
ETU official Alex McCallum told the rally: "It seems that the Victorian government is all rhetoric when it comes to taking real action to tackle the fact that our state's stationary energy sector is responsible for around 65% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions."
"There is a benefit in generating electricity close to where it is used, because you lose electricity in the
transmission from distant power stations", McCallum said. "In Germany, the introduction of a feed-in tariff resulted in the creation of 25,000 jobs in the solar electricity system."