Solar rebate axed, jobs lost

Mel Mcmillan Reporter | 6th November 2010

Rainbow Power Company director Paul O’Reilly said the NSW Government had ‘nailed’ the solar industry when it axed the solar rebate scheme last week.

Since then, the Nimbin based-company has not sold a single solar system, which account for about 80 per cent of the firm’s business.

“We were selling four or five a day toward the end of the scheme,” he said.

Mr O’Reilly said the impact would be delayed because it had five months of installation work still on its books.

The company will develop a new business model, Mr O’Reilly said, before considering cutting back staff hours in preference to lay-offs.

Lismore-based Nickel Renewable Energy has also taken a king hit from the decision.

“We have had no new business,” chief executive Nick Lake said.

Mr Lake said the company would not be sacking staff, but instead would look to develop new markets in Queensland.

Australian Solar Energy Association chief executive John Grimes predicted 2000 jobs would be lost.

“We know of over 10 people who lost their jobs overnight because of this policy change,” Mr Grimes said.

“We forecast around 2000 jobs will be lost because of this poor policy decision.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union secretary Tim Ayres called on the Commonwealth to introduce a standard national feed-in tariff.

Premier Kristina Keneally has defended the decision, saying cutting the tariff back would avoid an additional $2.5 billion in costs being passed on to households over the next six to seven years.

Opposition climate change spokeswoman Catherine Cusack said cutting the rate had been a ‘debacle’ for the industry.

“One of the few benefits of this fiasco is that we did create a renewable energy industry and if the (state) Government does not have a rescue plan for the industry even this benefit will be lost,” she said.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said his party would introduce legislation to Parliament next week to take the rate back up to 30 cents.

Mr Kaye said 40 cents would be better, but 30 cents would allow the industry to keep going over the shorter term.

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