Posted on 25. Aug, 2011 in Greening Victoria

Millions of dollars of investment and hundreds of new jobs for regional Victoria are at risk because of the Baillieu-Ryan Government’s lack of support for solar power generation, the Shadow Minister for Energy, Lily D’Ambrosio, said today.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Baillieu-Ryan Government had dithered on solar for nine months and forced a leading renewable energy company, the Mark Group, to put on hold a massive expansion through regional Victoria.

Today’s Age newspaper reported the company’s plan to open offices in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and in the La Trobe Valley – supporting 200 new jobs – were now in doubt because of the Baillieu-Ryan Government’s refusal to back the premium solar feed-in tariff scheme.

“The former Labor Government’s premium solar feed-in tariff was a boon for regional jobs, investment and the environment,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“It encouraged hundreds of regional families to install solar power units and supported massive overseas investment in regionalVictoria.

“More than 40 per cent of all systems installed under the scheme have been in rural Victoria.

“Now the Baillieu-Ryan Government is refusing to extend the scheme, killing off regional investment and jobs growth in the labour intensive and high-skilled solar power installation industry.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Clean Energy Council estimated ending the scheme would put at risk 1800 existing jobs in Victoria – many of these in regional communities.

“The Liberal and National Party have taken their eye off the ball on regional jobs growth and regional Victorians have every right to be worried,” she said.

“We are hurtling back to the days when country Victoria was treated as the ‘toenails of the state’ by the previous Liberal National Government.”

Ms D’Ambrosio joined Local MP for Bendigo West Maree Edwards in Castlemaine today to meet Malcolm Fyffe – a local resident who recently installed a $30,000 solar power system on his bush property.

Ms Edwards said dropping the premium solar feed in-tariff would hit regional families who had invested thousands of dollars to install solar power systems.

“Many people, like Mr Fyffe, purchased a solar system expecting a return from a premium price to support their investment. Now they will be left out of pocket and lumbered with a massive debt,” she said.

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