February 14, 2022
Australian households could save thousands in lower energy bills under a plan to make home batteries cheaper, to be unveiled today by Helen Haines, the Independent Federal Member for Indi.
Dr Haines will table new legislation that would lower the cost of household batteries by up to $3000, and which could triple the number of batteries in Australian households within three years.
Dr Haines’ Cheaper Home Batteries Bill, which is backed by experts in the renewable energy industry, would expand an incentive scheme for household solar originally set up by the Howard Government. Haines’ amendments would expand the scheme to introduce new incentives to install home batteries.
“Cost of living is the number one concern for Australians as we head to the election, and power bills make up a huge proportion of people’s costs. Using an existing government scheme to cover household batteries will allow people to further reduce the cost of their power bills,” Dr Haines said.
“Right now, neither major party has any real policies to help households lower their power bills with renewable-powered batteries. I’d like to see both parties step up and deliver stronger policies that help everyday people see the benefits from renewable energy.”
Since being established in the year 2000, the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme has been helping households save money by driving down the price of solar panels, which have plummeted 80% in the last decade. Dr Haines said that her Bill could do the same for batteries.
Under the expanded scheme as proposed Dr Haines, home batteries will be eligible to earn renewable energy certificates, which they can sell to electricity retailers to offset the installation cost of new batteries. Under current Government legislation, electricity retailers have an obligation to purchase certificates out to 2030, creating a new financial incentive for households to install batteries.
Dr Haines also called on the Government to offer no-interest loans to low-income households to keep prices down and the lights on for the most vulnerable.
“My Bill makes batteries cheaper. Combine that with a no-interest loan to help low-income people afford the upfront cost, and you’ve got a sensible policy that will directly tackle energy poverty, which disproportionately affects regional people.”
This is the second major renewable energy bill Haines has presented to Parliament, and will put both major parties on notice as the nation heads towards a possible hung parliament after a Federal election due in May.
Dr Haines said she was motivated to develop the legislation after witnessing devastating power outages during the bushfires, and seeing the high rates of power disconnections across Indi.
“During the 2019-20 fires, the Upper Murray was entirely isolated when the powerlines to Wodonga burned down. That should never happen – we need to support people in remote communities to have a backup power supply in a crisis.”
“Wodonga is one of the top postcodes in the state for people being disconnected by their electricity providers. Other towns like Cudgewa and Marysville are also up there. Solar and batteries would make the biggest impact for these households that are already struggling.”
Independent modelling of the proposal by analytics firm Green Energy Markets suggests the policy could see 2 million home batteries installed by 2030.
“My policy would deliver 15 times more capacity than the Government will get from the new gas-power station it is building in the Hunter Valley,” said Dr Haines.
“Not only would this save families money, these batteries would act as a massive electric sponge, soaking up cheap solar power during the day and balancing the grid at night. That’s good news for energy security and means a smoother transition to renewables.”
D Haines’ Bill coincides with the publication of new research from energy guru Saul Griffith that shows households could save $5000 a year from switching to renewable energy, electric vehicles and batteries.
“There is huge potential for households to save money with renewable energy, and the cost of batteries is one of the biggest barriers to unlocking those savings. My plan would remove that barrier.”
Dr Haines will host Dr Griffith in Wodonga this Friday on a tour of Indi’s renewable energy sector.
“Saul has built successful energy companies in America and now wants to do the same in Australia. So I am bringing him to Indi on Friday to show him the incredible local work we are doing here. I think Indi has a lot to teach the rest of Australia.”