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Motion: Stop the Sun Tax

27 October 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That this council—

  1. Affirms that renewable energy is the future of South Australia;
  2. Recognises the potential of rooftop solar to lower wholesale power prices for all consumers;
  3. Calls on the Marshall government to set meaningful targets for a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy for South Australia by:
    (a.) rolling out community-scale batteries;
    (b.) subsidising solar-panel and battery installation;
    (c.) rolling out dynamic operating envelopes; and
  4. Calls on the Marshall government to block a ruling by the Australian Energy Market Commission that allows networks to charge solar customers fees for exporting solar energy to the grid.

Back in August, the Australian Energy Market Commission ruled that distribution networks can now charge fees to solar homes and businesses to export their electricity. Known as the 'sun tax', this rule change will see networks given the power to charge solar households previously prohibited under the energy rules. This has been justified as necessary to fund required upgrades on the grid resulting from an excess of solar energy—at least this is the argument that has been put. That is despite the fact that solar surges have been shown to occur at night and in areas of very low solar uptake.

These changes will unfairly impact on those who in good faith have made long-term investments into renewables. We know that energy networks make significant profits so why is it that the cost burdens of future proofing the network is being passed on to a whole solar household, those who are already leading the way in trying to reduce their carbon footprint?

The cost for the distribution network should be shared among all generators including large multinational companies and fossil fuel generators, not just households. Australia's National Electricity Market's data showed energy contribution from renewables during 2020 in South Australia was the highest on record at 53 per cent, up from 7 per cent in 2019 and 5 per cent in 2018.

We need governments to encourage the uptake of rooftop solar, not penalise those who are doing the right thing for our environment, those who have already made this change. Despite both the Victorian and Queensland energy ministers stating their strong opposition to charging solar households in their states, our minister in South Australia has refused to follow suit and protect rooftop solar. Indeed, they have remained silent and in support of this solar tax.

South Australia's abundant wind and solar resources mean we are ideally suited to lead the nation and the world to a 100 per cent renewable energy future—a renewable-led recovery that would create jobs and tackle the climate change crisis and reduce energy prices. We know that as we transition away from coal and carbon we can create new jobs of the future in green innovation and renewable energy and we should be encouraging people to continue to switch to solar, not penalising those who are doing the right thing.

I do hope that members of this place will support this motion and send the Marshall government a clear message that they should be supporting those who are supporting our environment and they should be doing everything they can to reject this unfair solar tax.