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Yet another solar policy change; national gross feed in tariff is only long-term option

The latest in a long line of policy changes for solar power, announced by Climate Minister Greg Combet today, confirms once again that Australia's tangled mess of state and territory renewable energy subsidy schemes should be replaced with a comprehensive, national gross feed-in tariff for all forms of renewable energy at all scales.

Because every jurisdiction in Australia has different schemes, the change announced today may benefit the industry and householders in some parts of the country, but devastate others.

"Replacing this tangled web of policies with a properly designed feed-in tariff simply makes good policy sense," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"Both householders planning to invest in solar and business owners who have invested in setting up installation and importation companies will be grateful for the extended notice Minister Combet has given them of this latest change.

"But we cannot keep up this game of tweaking policies that leads to repeated boom and bust cycles for the industry."

Senator Milne has a bill before the Senate to complement the renewable energy target with a feed-in tariff to support investment in all forms of renewable energy at all scales, guaranteeing a price for energy generated from solar panels or small wind turbines on farms as well as for industrial scale solar thermal power plants.

"A feed-in tariff has been demonstrated around the world to be the cheapest and most effective way of creating a flourishing renewable energy industry.

"It shares the cost effectively while creating jobs, overcoming the investment uncertainty that is driving up power prices, and dealing with the climate crisis."

Senator Milne addressed the Solar 2010 conference earlier today in Canberra, warning the industry that it needs to prepare to fight for the support mechanisms it needs in the months and years ahead.

"We all know that a carbon price is a vital part of the puzzle but it is no silver bullet. A range of policies are necessary to bring on the shift from coal to 100% renewable energy that Australia can and must make in the coming decades.

"Australian renewable energy developers still face ad hoc, short term policies that are geared to tinkering around the edges instead of bringing on innovation and whole-sale transformation.

"Those in Australia who want to see renewable energy powering the whole country, as it can and must, needs to present that exciting vision and join together to fight for it."

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