Sun goes down on solar schools


Those 700 would be funded if eligible, and additional money made available if required.

But no more applications will now be considered until next financial year.

Announcing the program in July 2008, Mr Garrett said “the Rudd Labor government wants every Australian school — primary, secondary, public and private — to have the opportunity to become a ‘solar school’ and the commencement of this half-a-billion dollar program delivers on our election commitment.”

“… Industry too will benefit from the program from the $480 million federal funding injection, creating increased demand for large solar power systems for school roofs,” Mr Garrett said at the time.

The suspension is the latest in a series of changes and cuts to government solar programs, including the introduction of a means test on the household solar panel rebate and the ending of the remote solar program.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said it was “amazing that this government can waste $16billion on unwanted school halls but suspend a key solar program that every school appears to want”.

The program has already hit implementation hurdles with NSW’s centralised tendering process meaning no school had installed panels more than a year after the program started, and many schools running into problems hooking their panels into the power grid.

Mr Garrett’s spokesman said the Department of the Environment would contact every school registered under the program as well as those with applications on hand to advise of the suspension until next year.

Under the program schools were eligible for up to $50,000 to install solar power systems, or energy efficiency spending on items such as lighting, fans or awnings. Rainwater tanks, small wind turbines, small hydro power generators and skylights were also eligible.

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