Newman an accidental eco-warrior hero

July 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Who would have thought that Queensland’s throwback premier would turn out to be an eco-warrior worth his weight in lentils and sunshine? Campbell Newman might have tried to destroy the renewable energy industry by slashing the ‘‘feed-in tariff’’ for solar power – the amount you get paid for pumping your excess solar energy back into the grid. But instead it looks like he may have created a short-term boom.
 
(Full disclosure time. I was one of the thousands of people rushing to lodge orders for solar power systems last night, hours before Newman brought the hammer down on the industry by chopping back the feed-in tariff from 44 cents to a miserly 8 cents per kilowatt hour. You could guarantee your payday by getting your order in before midnight, and companies in the solar industry reported jumps of up to 30 per cent in applications and enquiries before the cut off. They’ll probably be a year processing the backlog.)
 
Maybe Newman may just turn around and move the goal posts again. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t imagine there’s anything stopping him from doing so. But having made the leap into solar, I don’t much care. I’ve had solar hot water for five years and love the feeling of that free, steaming hot shower at the end of each day. Maybe I wont get to watch my electricity meter going backwards at 44c a kilowatt hour forever, but what the hell. I burn heaps of power here at the Playboy Mansion. Those hot tubs don’t get all bubbly and steamy on their own, you know.
 
And it does bug the hell of me, whenever I fly into or out of the city, particularly in summer, to watch the sun beat down on hundreds of square miles of glinting, corrugated iron and rusting sheet metal and tile and slate and whatever and ever amen. I’ve never really understood why we don’t harness that energy. So what if it doesn’t supply baseload? It could still supply a metric feckload of our needs, especially in summer when the city’s air-con bill goes crazy.
 
But it’s all about cost, I suppose. Not everyone can afford to install a photovoltaic array. Although one company, looking to clear its stock, was offering to install their systems for a buck, as long as you signed over the solar credits and any future tariff payments to them. The offer looked so good many people thought it a scam, even though the company would totally cash in over the long term.
 
Personally, I hesitated until it became apparent the government was intent on preferencing coal miners over solar producers. That tariff cut was all the motivation your correspondent needed to put those big-arse panels up on my roof. So thanks, premier. Really. I thank you and the planet thanks you.

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