AS POWER prices continue to scale new heights, renewable energy such as solar power is becoming an increasingly popular alternative in our town.

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) counted 759 installations of solar panels in Port Macquarie last year – equating to 5.08 per cent of households using solar energy, a mid-range percentage in NSW.

The state is leading the way in renewable energy, with the biggest growth in solar-power system use in Australia.

Some 32,196 solar power systems were installed in NSW last year, compared to 13,875 in 2009.

Queensland came in second, with 25,594 systems installed last year.

After June 30, the federal government’s solar rebate – which now is about $7000 for installing a residential system – will be reduced by $1200.

Port Macquarie solar panel installers have enjoyed increased orders from homeowners rushing to beat the deadline.

Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell believes the increase in solar panels installations is contributing to rising electricity prices, because the government has to find money to pay out its “generous” rebate.

CEC argues – citing an independent energy market analyst ROAM Consulting report – that power prices are being driven by rising network costs and retailer margins, not renewable energy.

Installation company G & A Martin Electrical Contractors owner Scott Martin said he did not know exactly how the rebate money was generated.

But he hoped it would not be through rising power prices.

“By installing solar panels on someone’s home, while the government is offering the rebate, essentially the infrastructure is bought by the homeowner, so the onus is on them to maintain it, allowing the government to save money on infrastructure installation and maintenance. That’s where I hope the rebate money is coming from,” he said.

source: portnews