LETTER TO THE EDITOR
I recently sent this letter to Minister for Essential Services Eva Lawler:-
Dear Honourable Minister,
We bought our house here in Alice Springs five years ago hoping to move in imminently but I was struck down with Acute Leukaemia, so we were delayed and moved in March this year.
On buying the house we saw to our disbelief that it had no solar panels, so immediately spent $10,000 having 20 of them installed. On moving here we discovered that a huge African Mahogany tree covered half the roof throughout winter months, so rather than cut it down, we installed another eight panels on the west facing roof ($3,500).
I see from an ABC report that the NT government cancelled their 1 for 1 tariff rate last year without any warning, so any expectation that we could pay off our solar panels within the expected five or six years has been thrown in the trash.
If I take October as an average month, we received $16.54 From Jacana Energy for generating 1,034 KWH of electricity to be used (one assumes) in the NT. Does that sound to you like any kind of deal? Or a complete rip off?
At this rate (earning approximately $192 a year) we will have only earned $1,920 in 10 years, and $3,840 in 20 years (assuming we are even alive by then – I am a working 70 year old) by which time the solar panels will probably need to be replaced. Would you agree to any transaction like this? It verges on disgusting.
I have spoken at length with Katrina (a manager) from Jacana Energy to find out what is going on. Jacana says the NT government is solely responsible for the collapse of the solar feed-in tariff and it is something they have no control over. This is possibly because Jacana has the ear of the NT government and their profits have dropped over recent years with the uptake of solar – I have no way of knowing as there is no transparency – I do know that profits and shareholders have priority in our economic system.
Anyway last year we were getting 24.23 cents a KWH and now we are getting next to nothing at .083 cents a KWH. I realise in a capitalist world, companies have to make a % profit but this is way beyond that – it’s obscene.
If the NT government is seriously committed to a green future (let alone saving the planet for their children and children’s children) as opposed to the occasional green wash statement, I urge you to re-consider what you have done. Rather than encouraging every citizen to get on board with solar power, you are in effect penalising those who have taken the initiative.
Please don’t reply with a counter argument that the company has expenses for infrastructure, upkeep, repairs etc. I would reply that they are already charging us a fixed rate for that at $14.81 a month.
Please don’t reply with the argument that the system cannot handle so much electricity and becomes unstable. Engineers have been fixing these kinds of problems ever since Edison (DC) and Westinghouse (AC) at the beginning of the 20th Century. Regulating electricity is not rocket science.
Please don’t reply that capitalism requires vast profits to invest in the future, we have taxes for that… and indeed the private energy sector is already ahead of most governments in at least seeing the end of coal, even if methane is beyond their steak lunches.
The myopic thinking of most governments in Australia have us lagging behind the rest of the industrialised world – we are currently the worst emitter of green house gasses per capita. Instead a place with as much sunshine as the NT should by now be selling a surplus of energy to SE Asia instead of penalising its citizens for trying to do the right thing.
Photo at top: Domestic solar installation, sourced from Facebook.