No changes to solar power scheme in Qld budget

Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle says that Tuesday's state budget will not include any change to solar power schemes.

The ABC reports that the Queensland government cut the payments to households who have solar panels installed and supply power back to the grid last year.

They now only receive eight cents a kilowatt hour. However, those who had already signed up get a 44 cents feed-in tariff.

According to McArdle, the scheme is causing other power uses to pay higher bills. It equates to around 4 per cent of power costs.

"It's a debate that we have to have because 92,000 homes not paying a power bill is not the outcome expected at the start of that scheme.

"This is a debate that could take a little while to get through, but I can't sustain many people in this state not being able to meet their own power bills, subsidising those who have solar power on their roof."

According to the Brisbane Times, solar power users are likely to fight the government’s position and could form a voting bloc to oppose the LNP government.

Anthony Buckwell, who runs Sun State Solar told the Brisbane Times that there are 308,000 Queensland homes with solar energy systems.

He said that, according to the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics, this figure represents over 23 per cent of Queensland's detached and semi-detached houses.

"It is supporting a $2 billion industry, supporting close to one thousand solar installers, so that would be several thousand workers," he said.

"We are talking almost 25 per cent of households – if they start to feel unfairly targeted I think some of them will come on board."

Solar energy users are becoming more vocal throughout the country. An advocacy group, Solar Citizens was recently established to represent their interests.