THE state government has suspended applications under the $1.9 billion solar bonus scheme following a blow-out in the cost.

This means tens of thousands of people who had been expecting to get a tariff of 60¢ per kilowatt generated by solar panels on their homes may now get only 20¢, leaving them barely able to cover their installation costs.

The move, from midnight on Thursday, came as data obtained from the Department of Industry and Investment showed applications totalling 350 megawatts, equal to a mid-sized power station, had been received under the scheme by April 8.

All applications once the scheme tops 300 megawatts will be denied the 60¢ tariff. More than 150,000 applications have been received, and yesterday’s announcement means all further applications, even for the lower 20¢ tariff, have been suspended.

Labor introduced the solar bonus scheme with support from the opposition and the Greens, offering a feed-in tariff of 60¢. Last November, the then government said all contracts entered into once the total size of the scheme exceeded 300 megawatts of installed generation capacity would be cut to 20¢.

The Minister for Energy, Chris Hartcher, said yesterday the future of the scheme would be discussed at a ”solar summit” next Friday, although he has ruled out cutting tariffs for those already signed up.

He said the government remained committed to a sustainable renewable energy program. ”Solar energy, wind energy and other forms of renewable energy must be sustainable. They cannot simply be an excuse for a further cost imposition on the NSW taxpayer and upon the NSW budget.”

source: smh