UPDATE: Solar Victoria Homes Program – 1st of July Information & What You Can Do Now!

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It’s been a nail-biting few months for Victoria homeowners and those within the solar industry after the Solar Victoria Homes Panel Rebate was abruptly paused back in April due to reaching full capacity for this financial year.

Since then solar providers and homeowners have been eagerly awaiting information on the re-launch of the Solar Victoria Homes Panel Package (which will now be a subsidy but still being referred to as a rebate) as well as the newly introduced interest free loans, solar for rental properties and home battery rebates which are also set to be launched under the Solar Homes Program come the 1st of July.

Information Released

Yesterday afternoon Solar Victoria shed some light and released information on what to expect with the new online portal, the requirements for providers and those applying, as well as the process come the 1st of July.

“From July 2019, the Victorian Government will add new components to the Solar Homes program, including interest-free loans, rebates for solar batteries, and a program for landlords and renters to access rooftop solar.”

Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister for Solar Homes

The Solar Home Program

The Solar Homes program will run over 10 years and will support the installation of more than 650,000 solar PV systems for owner occupiers, 50,000 solar PV systems for landlords and tenants, 10,000 battery storage systems, and 60,000 solar hot water systems.

There is a set number of rebates which will be approved each month and once this number has reached capacity it is likely they will pause the ability to submit new applications until the start of the next round (month).

An applicant can apply only once as an owner-occupier (one of solar PV, batteries or hot water only) and once as a landlord (solar PV only).

Number of Rebates To Be Released Per Annum

2019–2020    
Rebate No of Rebates per annum Rebate per month
Solar Panel Rebate – Owner & occupiers 40,000 3,333
Solar Panel Rebate – Renters 2,000 166
Solar Hot Water Rebate 6,000 Subject to demand
Batteries Rebate                      1,000 Three releases of 200, 400 and 400 on 1 July, 1 November and 1 March 

 Rebate Amounts ($)

Rebate Amounts ($) 2018–2019 2019–2020 2020–2021
    01/07/19- 31/12/19 01/01/20-30/06/20  
Solar PV $2,225 $2,225 $1,888 $1,850
Batteries NA $4,838 $4,838 $4,174
Solar Hot Water $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 TBC

The Online Portal

From the 1st of July the solar panel and battery rebate applications will be accessible via the One-stop Solar Victoria Portal. The portal will allow consumers, retailers and installers to easily manage their eligibility, applications and rebates online.

The portal opened to installers and providers in May 2019 allowing them complete their online registration to take part in the program.

Important Information Regarding Portal Process:

  • Applicants will only be able to benefit from rebates and loans after they have received confirmation of their eligibility and been notified that they may proceed with their installation by Solar Victoria.
  • Rebates will only be paid to those retailers that received confirmation of an applicant’s eligibility prior to the installation of a system.
  • Retailers cannot take a deposit for systems supported by the Solar Homes program until the eligibility of the applicant has been confirmed by Solar Victoria.
  • Rebate payments will start being automated for retailers (who are registered users) through the Portal once the program launches on 1 July 2019.

Consumers Applying Through The Portal

  • Before reaching out to providers for solar and battery quotes it is important to first check whether you meet the eligibility criteria here.
  • After determining whether you are eligible you can request quotes from authorised retailers – Receive Obligation FREE Quotes Here!
  • The authorised solar retailer will then submit any quotes they provide to you through the Solar Victoria Portal, which will be used to trigger your eligibility assessment and provide you with an eligibility number.
  • You can then upload the required documents to confirm your eligibility via the Solar Victoria Portal
  • Once all approved you can go ahead with the installation and then the solar provider will need to upload documents showing proof of the installation to receive the rebate via the portal.

From 1 November 2019, all authorised solar retailers must be signed up to Clean Energy Council’s (CEC) Solar Retailer Code of Conduct to participate in the program. Only authorised retailers will be able to access the rebate and portal.

Find out more about the Online Portal here

Solar Homes Panel Rebate

Similar to the recently paused Panel Rebate, households will be able to apply for a rebate up to the maximum of $2,225 from the 1st of July. Being able to combine this rebate with the Federal Government Solar Rebate could give households a return on investment in less than 3 years!

Solar Homes Renters Program

The Solar Homes Renters Program which will offer 50,000 rebates on solar PV systems for Victorian rental properties will consist of two streams:

Stream A – (Rebate only) will give landlords a rebate up to $2,225 towards a solar system for their rental property and then the landlord will be required to pay the rest.

The rebate amount will be paid directly to the solar provider and will be deducted from the total cost of the system, with the landlord paying the outstanding balance directly to the provider once installed.

Stream B – which will consist of the rebate up to $2,225 plus a loan that will allow the tenant to contribute to the cost of the system.

The rebate will be subject to new rental lease agreement between the tenants and landlord.

Further details of this will be provided in August 2019.

“The feedback we’ve had from real estate agents is rental properties with solar on the roof are a lot easier to rent. No government has really been able to crack it yet, so full marks to the Victorian government. It really needs landlords to show interest now.” 

Director of smart energy at the Clean Energy Council, Darren Gladman

Find out more on the Solar Home Renters Program here

Battery Rebate

The new Battery Rebate will start off as a Battery Pilot Rebate Scheme and only be eligible to households within certain postcodes. While the list of eligible postcodes may change throughout the program the current list has been selected due to the following criteria;

  • Postcodes have a high proportion of households with existing solar PV systems; and
  • In an area where the electricity grid can cope with the additional power the battery will provide.

Eligible Postcodes

3024 | 3038 | 3048 | 3059 | 3064 | 3106 | 3212 | 3217 | 3218 | 3226 | 3228 | 3351 | 3377 | 3467 | 3752 | 3754 | 3936 | 3939 | 3941 | 3942 | 3943 | 3944 | 3977 | 3978

The rebate will provide a discount up to $4,838 for a solar battery and will not be available to those who have already received a Solar Homes Package rebate.

Find out more on the Solar Battery rebate here

Solar Providers and System Requirement Changes

In releasing the new schemes, Solar Victoria wants to focus on improving quality, safety and industry development which they plan to do by making stricter requirements for the standards of Solar Providers and the systems that are to be installed under the program.

The main changes include:

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Solar Providers (Business)

  • Will be required to be a signatory to the CEC Approved Solar Retailer program or equivalent ACCC code of conduct. This will be mandatory from 1st of November 2019 for all retailers taking part in the program and mandatory from 1st of July for the top 150 retailers (determined by sales volume).

Inverters

  • Strict testing of PV inverters so they do not remain live (or ‘islanded’) in the event of blackout
  • Inverters to be able to provide ‘Volt-VAr’ and ‘Volt-Watt’ response modes to help maintain network voltage within correct levels while allowing solar electricity to be exported.

Premier Daniel Andrews has said they will also provide a more rigorous auditing program of providers and installers and made “no apology for putting safety first”.

Find out more on solar provider and system requirements here

So What Now?

As the 1st of July approaches those wanting to claim under the Solar Victoria Homes Program should start doing their research now and speak to installers in regards to quoting under the program.

It’s important to know that until the commencement of the program on the 1st of July you will not be able to retrieve your eligibility number which will confirm that you can receive the rebate you are applying for. Due to this while doing your research and retrieving quotes is a good idea, consumers should be wary to not sign any documentation confirming the installation until they have received their eligibility number.

Start Speaking To Installers About Quotes!

Get Quotes!

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.