A SCHEME to put more sunshine into Victoria’s energy mix will bump up power bills by three to five times more than previously thought.

The then Labor government pledged last July to lift the portion of the state’s electricity provided by solar power to five per cent by 2020.

The promise was matched by the coalition, then in opposition.

In an effort to meet this target, then premier John Brumby announced an incentive scheme to encourage the private sector to invest in solar power, called the Victorian Large Scale Solar Feed-in Tariff.

Mr Brumby said the cost of the tariff would increase electricity bills by between $5 and $15 a year from 2014.

But Auditor-General Des Pearson today found the true cost of the tariff would be between $23 and $47 a year – almost three to five times the estimates provided by Labor.

Mr Pearson also found that setting targets for renewable energy had done little to increase its development.

At the end of 2009, just 3.9 per cent of Victoria’s energy was drawn from renewable sources, such as solar and wind.

Energy Minister Michael O’Brien said the auditor-general had exposed Labor’s dishonesty and incompetence on renewable energy.

“Jacking up power bills for Victorian families without delivering environmental gains benefits no one,” he told reporters.

He said the tariff would be referred to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission for review.

The government would make a decision on the tariff’s future after it received the commission’s report, Mr O’Brien said.

He said the government would not set a renewable energy target but was committed to the “aspirational” goal legislated by Labor of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020.

source: heraldsun