New energy package a huge win for Victorians

Person holding light globe against horizon

Sue Hewitt

Posted November 18, 2020

Households, small business and the environment are big winners in the government’s new multi-million-dollar package to turbocharge energy efficiency.

RACV has welcomed the Victorian government’s bold new $797-million home energy-saving package, describing it as a huge win for Victorian households, small businesses and the environment.

RACV Solar's chief executive officer Andy McCarthy says the package, announced ahead of the 24 November state budget, is good news for the environment and employment, and will help householders, small businesses, renters and low-income earners reduce their energy costs as Victoria recovers from the financial impact of COVID-19.

“This is a huge win for Victorians who have been doing it tough this year and an exciting day for renewable energy,” says Andy. “Importantly, the package has long-term solutions to reduce energy bills for Victorians while helping the environment by making homes more energy efficient.”

Andy says that while Victoria has strong uptake of rooftop solar, some households have not been in a position to take advantage of the benefits and savings, even as the price of solar systems has fallen in recent years.

By increasing the number of solar rebates, we are helping more people access cheaper, cleaner energy.

A key plank of the new energy-efficiency package is an additional 42,000 rebates, worth $1850, for domestic rooftop solar over the next two years under the government’s Solar Homes Program, to meet the surging demand for household solar.

“These incentives put in place the final step for people who want to install solar but couldn’t quite afford the outlay,” says Andy. “By increasing the number of solar rebates, we are helping more people access cheaper, cleaner energy.”

Small business will also be able to access solar rebates for the first time to help them reduce operating costs as they recover from the effects of COVID-19. A total of 15,000 small-business rebates, covering up to half the cost of a solar system, will be available over three years via the Solar Homes Program.

Home solar batteries will also be more affordable thanks to an additional 17,500 rebates, worth up to $4147, available to all Victorian householders over the next three years.

“That means home owners with rooftop solar can really make it work for them by storing energy for when they need it,” says Andy. “It’s the next evolution of a grid powered by renewables.”

Householders will also be encouraged to install new energy-saving appliances through the Victorian Energy Upgrades program which has been provided with $14 million over the next four years to expand its rebate program on a range of energy efficiency upgrades including smart appliances and other technologies.

And for low-income earners, a new $335-million commitment to help replace old power-hungry appliances and heaters with new energy-efficient models, will help reduce energy bills and make homes more comfortable.

Hydronic wall heater

Photo: Getty

Andy says for many Victorians struggling with the everyday cost of living, their old electric or gas-fired heater might still work but may not be safe or economic to run. “This scheme will help replace them with energy-efficient units to lower running costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.”

The government estimates this component of the package will save 250,000 Victorian low-income households between $300 and $900 a year on their energy bills. It is currently working on the eligibility criteria.

Other measures in the package include new minimum energy-efficiency standards for rental properties, a $112-million allocation to make social housing properties more energy efficient, and bill relief for those on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and pension payments.

The minister for energy, environment and climate change, Lily D’Ambrosio, says as most Victorians have spent more time at home than ever before this year, power bills have soared.

“That’s why we’re helping those struggling to pay their bills and making homes across the state more energy efficient. This pandemic has been hard enough without worrying about whether you can pay the power bill.

“Not only will we help cover that cost – we'll help Victorians make their home more efficient and fight climate change.”


Victoria's new energy efficiency package: At a glance

  • 42,000 additional $1850 solar rebates for households, taking the total number of rebates over two years to 140,000.
  • Solar rebates for 15,000 small businesses over three years, covering up to half the cost of the system installed.
  • Rebates for solar batteries now open to all Victorians, with an additional 17,500 rebates provided to households over the next three years.
  • An extra $14 million to expand the existing Victorian Energy Upgrades Program which provides rebates to trade up to smart appliances.
  • $335 million in rebates for 250,000 low-income households to replace old wood, electric and gas heaters with energy-efficient split systems.
  • $112 million to seal windows and doors and upgrade heating, cooling and hot water in 35,000 social-housing properties.
  • New minimum energy-efficiency standards for rental homes, which the government estimates will help tenants in about 320,000 poor-quality properties.
  • A one-off $250 bill-relief payment for people on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or pension payments to help with energy bills.