A pilot program recently rolled out in South Australia saw up to 1,000 concession holders offered a free solar system in exchange for forgoing their South Australian government energy concessions.

The state government says eligible low-income homeowners could save hundreds of dollars per year through the Switch for Solar program.

Residents in 17 north-eastern Adelaide suburbs can participate in the $4.25 million scheme, along with people from Goolwa and Hindmarsh Island, on South Australia’s south coast.

Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said those eligible would be contacted directly, starting today.

“We want to be able to help this cohort of people access cheaper electricity,” he said.

Concessions that households would have to give up include the $215.10 per year Cost of Living Concession and $231.41 per year towards their energy bill.

They would also save money on electricity.

Opposition energy spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said cutting people’s concessions was “unfair and cruel and they shouldn’t be doing it”.

“I think they’ve designed it for the headline rather than the impact,” he said.

He said the solar panels could instead be offered for free with money diverted from other grant programs that had limited take-up, such as one for home batteries.

Asked whether the scheme would put more pressure on an electricity grid already characterised by high levels of solar energy production, a government spokesperson said grid stability remained a priority.

“We are committed to reducing our state’s carbon footprint, ensuring grid stability, while importantly providing energy savings to households who may be unable to afford the upfront capital cost of the latest renewable energy technology,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said 1,000 installations were expected to be completed over the 12-month rollout.

The South Australian government also has a program for public housing to receive solar panels and batteries.

The spokesperson said the next phase of that scheme, involving the installation of Tesla technology to create a “virtual power plant” (VPP), was on schedule, with “more than 2,000 South Australian Housing Authority tenants registering to receive a site inspection to determine their eligibility”.

Article originally published by ABC News

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