THE State Government is considering clawing back money from Solar Bonus Scheme customers in an attempt to balance the books.

Trade and Investment Department deputy director-general Mark Duffy said they were looking at a number of options to pay off a $1.8 billion black hole left behind by the Keneally government.

Mr Duffy described the SBS, adopted last January, as a “plane crash”.

“The solar cells are insufficient when it comes to carbon reduction. Those who got into the scheme are in super windfall territory,” he said.

Energy Minister Chris Hartcher met with solar energy stakeholders before yesterday’s solar summit at Parliament House. Solar Energy Industries Association chairman Ged McCarthy said Mr Hartcher had agreed to process SBS applications made before the midnight April 28 cut-off. But they will cause more stress for taxpayers.

Homes with rooftop solar panels feed electricity back to the grid at a price of 20c per kilowatt hour but a massive uptake pushed the scheme to near capacity long before it was due to close in 2016.

Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal chairman Rod Sims said, had the O’Farrell Government not stalled the SBS, electricity prices would have risen by 23 per cent.

Mr Sims said the SBS was created to make the public think the government was taking climate change action.

Australian Energy Market Commission chairman John Pierce that said energy prices across the country would rise more than 30 per cent by 2013.

“That figure is higher in NSW,” he said.

Mr Pierce said the failed SBS proved state governments should not be controlling climate change schemes.

Clean Energy Council CEO Matt Warren said 5000 NSW solar industry jobs had been compromised by confusion.

“Some operators have $200 million worth of stock, that figure could go up to $500 million,” he said.

source: dailytelegraph

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