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Strata dwellers face solar discrimination

09 Oct 2018

Strata dwellers face solar discrimination Image

While the major political parties are setting out to woo voters with solar subsidies, these policies do little for strata dwellers such as Southbankers.

In fact, with hundreds of millions of dollars promised for suburban free-standing retrofits, it can be argued that apartment dwellers will, in fact, fund the subsidies.

This issue came to the fore at a recent “Chairs Lounge” function hosted by the We Live Here lobby group on September 26.

Strata lawyer Tom Bacon opened formalities by pointing out that the state Labor Party’s recent $1 billion solar subsidy election pitch excluded apartment dwellers.

“Drill down into the detail and you’ll find the policy extends to 670,000 freestanding homes, and excludes apartment buildings,” Mr Bacon said.

Mr Bacon also said any cuts in the retail price of electricity to households were unlikely to benefit owners’ corporations (OCs) which face massive power bills for the maintenance of common areas.

“They’ll be able to offer this to voters, because they will have given assurances behind closed doors that existing coal powered stations will have their operating lives extended by some years. In return, power companies will put a cap on power prices, and will lower prices for some homeowners,” Mr Bacon said.

“The price drops will not extend to larger OCs and businesses because these are likely [to be] on different rates. The short answer is that those living in OCs will not see the lower prices that freestanding homeowners shall receive.”

“And if you’re on an embedded network, there is double pain, as those companies that run these networks will likely not pass on the full discounts on offer,” Mr Bacon said.

Melbourne MP Ellen Sandell also spoke at the forum, reinforcing the message that strata-dwellers are being left out in the cold.

And, she said, more generally, renters would also miss out under the government’s plan to reward free-standing home-owners.

She there was no incentive for landlords to invest in solar or renewables, as it was the responsibility of tenants to pay for utilities.

Her Greens party is proposing an alternative policy whereby renters and apartment owners would be able to buying into “solar farms” on public buildings and receive property-transferrable credits to redeem against future power bills.

“How does it work? A renter or apartment-owner can buy a solar panel on a nearby building, such as a train station, and the energy it creates is credited to their bill,” she said. “If they move, they still own the panel and the credit moves with them.”

“$1000 grants will be made available per renter to help them buy into the solar gardens scheme, matching the subsidy that homeowners get through Daniel Andrews’ plan.”

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