The Coalition has called for an urgent inquiry into a renewable energy scheme after authorities were forced to cancel permits worth approximately $113 million because of compliance problems.
Andrew Livingston, the Renewable Energy Regulator, told a Senate Estimates hearing on Monday that he had cancelled 3.3 million Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
RECs provide cash payments to people who install measures such as solar panels, under the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme. Electricity prices have gone up to pay for the scheme.
The Coalition’s climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said there could be serious issues with the RET scheme.
“We don’t want a repeat of the money wasted under the Home Insulation Program. Power prices are rising to pay for this scheme and households have the right to know the money is not being wasted,” Mr Hunt said.
“The Prime Minister should launch an independent investigation into the RET scheme.”
Mr Hunt said the inquiry should look into whether solar panels were faulty, whether non-accredited people were installing them, and whether adequate safety standards were in place.
Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham said it was critical that confidence in the solar industry was maintained.
“The solar industry has been pushed from pillar to post by the Rudd and Gillard Governments, with ever-changing rebates, incentives and complementary programs,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Rather than waiting for a crisis of confidence to emerge in this important area, these concerns must be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.  The solar industry deserves swift action not the kind of blind eye that has become so synonymous with Labor’s policy failures.”
NB. The 3.3 million cancelled RECs have a value of $113 million based on today’s wholesale price of $34.50 per LGC (Large-scale Generation Certificate).