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Thread: Solar power the new roof insulation debacle

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    Default Solar power the new roof insulation debacle

    SUBSIDISED solar power risks becoming a new insulation-type debacle, with industry leaders claiming shoddy work and poor safety standards are rife.

    Top companies have given warning that:

    - Shonky operators are flooding the solar power industry on the back of government subsidies.

    - Dangerous non-tempered glass and inferior imported panels are being used to cut costs.

    - There is evidence of installations in Queensland so poor that panels could fall off the roof.

    - So-called "free" 1.5kW units are insufficient.

    Fearing a repeat of the ceiling insulation disaster, which led to house fires and the death of four installers, they have told the Federal Government it must change the way subsidies are allocated to safeguard homeowners and encourage a sustainable industry.

    Householders are currently eligible for up to $6000 in federal rebates for roof-mounted solar power systems installed by an accredited operator.

    There have been about 20,000 such systems installed in Queensland in the past three years. But industry figures warn some operators are cutting overheads to drum up business.

    Solar Shop Australia managing director Adrian Ferraretto said some operators were offering 1.5kW installations "free", allowing government subsidies to cover the full cost.

    "When things are for free, every man and his dog gets accreditation and starts installing," he said.

    "We do not want a repeat of the ceiling insulation situation."

    Mr Ferraretto said a quality 3kW solar system to power a family home should cost $16,000 to $17,000.

    "A 1.5kW system is really only enough to power your shed," he said, adding that only householders willing to contribute their own money should get subsidies.

    "If you had a 3kW system you would have mums and dads taking a lot more interest in what they are paying for. You would also have a worthwhile solar power system and we could ensure we continue to have a credible industry."

    Greenbank Australia, the nation's largest independent trader of renewable energy certificates, revealed the dangers to a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra.

    "You actually have electricity generation on your roof and if you start putting in cheap panels that are made with just plain glass, not tempered glass, it is dangerous," Greenbank chief Fiona O'Hehir said.

    Conenergy Australia general manager David McCallum said some substandard installations could simply fall off the roof.

    "You could have . . . 5kg or 20kg modules falling from the roof line," he said.

    Mr Ferraretto said he had photographic evidence in Queensland of wood being used to secure solar installations.

    "That could simply rot and the installation fall off," he said.

    Industry insiders said some operators were also installing low-grade solar panels.

    Queensland National Party Senator Ron Boswell, who has been investigating the issue for several months, said the safety concerns were real but he did not believe they were life threatening at this stage.

    "It is frankly cold comfort to be told by the department that safeguards are in place," Senator Boswell said. "The danger may be more of rorting and defrauding householders." Clean Energy Council Australia said there were credible concerns about the methods used by some solar panel installers.





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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanity View Post

    Mr Ferraretto said he had photographic evidence in Queensland of wood being used to secure solar installations.

    "That could simply rot and the installation fall off," he said.
    Hahahaha! Hey I resemble that remark.

    Seriously though, my bro-in-law just recently had a 1kw system installed by NQ Solar and he was saying the quality and workmanship of the install was of a very high standard, and he's very fussy. The only thing we were pondering on were the 175w "ET" (phone home?) solar panels that were used.

    They are supposed to be a good quality Chinese panel but I guess only time will tell.

    He also bought a bigger inverter so he could add a couple more panels at own expense on a later date.

    Was it worth it to him? Yes. But as pointed out to me by a hardworking tax paying mate, someone has to pay for this subsidy somewhere along the line.

    These solar installs are just too small to have anything but negligible impact on QLD power reserves, especially during our 9 month summer when living here requires the AC on 24/7 to stay cool and relatively sane.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanity View Post
    Top companies have given warning that:

    - Shonky operators are flooding the solar power industry on the back of government subsidies.
    The electrical worker's licence that you need to install the inverter is presumably a lot harder to get than a "roofing insulation installers" accrediation.

    In Victoria at least, there's been a TV ad campaign going for a while about electrical safety. Hopefully everyone pays heed to this and asks to see the installer's licence.

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    The biggest shock I got when looking into this was.................no you don't get a credit against the general Electricity you use, you get paid for the power you make, yeah sounds good I suppose, but, the tax department deems this payment as 'income' so down the line you will have to pay tax on it, and guess what, your locked into the price they pay you per KW for 5 years. That is for NSW, might be different in other states.

    My big question was, if having the solar setup was necessary for you to make the income, can you claim things like repairs, and depreciation as a tax deduction ??, I have a funny feeling that you probably can't.

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    The people that got killed installing insulation where working for Australian small business men one guy was an electrician who sent a kid into a roof with foil insulation and a stapler and didn't tell him to turn the power off.
    Is the government responsible for his death or the dodgy small business man(trained electrician)?
    More people died and houses burnt down when dads used to go to Bunnings and do it them selves,it just didn't make the papers as a big story because there was no government to blame.

    With this solar thing, its buyer beware just like buying any other appliance for the home.If panels are falling off the roof its because of dodgy small businessmen.
    Basic rule if someone knocks on your door asking to do something for nothing tell him to get lost.Ring up someone form the phone book who has been a round for a while.
    As for getting bigger systems ?????
    Sounds like the whole article is an add for The Solar Shop
    .................................................. .....................
    Paul Posted at 7:46 AM Today

    I live in a double story 4 bedroom home with 2 bathrooms, dishwasher, 450L fridge, large LDC television etc and wife and 2 kids 2 and 5. I have a 1kw system from a couple years ago. After going on the Qld Gov rebate system our electricity bill was in credit $15, so we cut loose and our last electricity cost us $10. So 1kw is good for a shed???????? Paul

    Comment 37 of 116

    Last edited by Dishtrackted; 02-06-10 at 11:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dishtrackted View Post
    .................................................. .....................
    Paul Posted at 7:46 AM Today

    I live in a double story 4 bedroom home with 2 bathrooms, dishwasher, 450L fridge, large LDC television etc and wife and 2 kids 2 and 5. I have a 1kw system from a couple years ago. After going on the Qld Gov rebate system our electricity bill was in credit $15, so we cut loose and our last electricity cost us $10. So 1kw is good for a shed???????? Paul

    Comment 37 of 116
    In stark contrast to post 35.

    You try to do the right thing environmentally,as we did, spent $5000.00 of our own money,together with the Govt. subsidy of $8000.00, 2 years ago,& returned no power to the grid,& of course, saved no money on power bills.. IT'S A SHONKY SHAM !!!
    With conflicting stories like this it's hard to know what is going on, who to trust or how much savings are to be had on any install.

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    Paul Posted at 7:46 AM Today

    I live in a double story 4 bedroom home with 2 bathrooms, dishwasher, 450L fridge, large LDC television etc and wife and 2 kids 2 and 5. I have a 1kw system from a couple years ago. After going on the Qld Gov rebate system our electricity bill was in credit $15, so we cut loose and our last electricity cost us $10. So 1kw is good for a shed???????? Paul

    Comment 37 of 116
    What a load of Shite!! , a 1KW system averages 4kwh per day , the average Australian usage is 16KWH per day but most are much higher.


    Also earnings from Solar power for taxpayers in not taxable income , it's on the ATO website if people want to check.


    One last thing , anyone thinking about going solar , forget this rubbish about buying a bigger inverter so you can add more panels later , it's a con! most people start out with this idea , 99.9999% people never install more panels to an existing grid connected system , it's not that easy and usually by the time you want to add more panel the ones you have are obsolete.
    Also Grid connect inverters run much more efficiently when they are operating close to the maximum input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    Also earnings from Solar power for taxpayers in not taxable income , it's on the ATO website if people want to check.
    Well thanks for clearing that up Joey, the people that are doing the installs at my Mum's retirement village told all the residents that it was, and there are 125 1.5kw installs being done there over the next month or so. I'll tell 'em to check out the ATO site now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Learjet View Post
    In stark contrast to post 35.
    Quote Originally Posted by post 35
    You try to do the right thing environmentally,as we did, spent $5000.00 of our own money,together with the Govt. subsidy of $8000.00, 2 years ago,& returned no power to the grid,& of course, saved no money on power bills.. IT'S A SHONKY SHAM !!!


    With conflicting stories like this it's hard to know what is going on, who to trust or how much savings are to be had on any install.
    Surely if they have a panel on, its saving money. unless they have it under a tree on a south facing roof
    Last edited by Dishtrackted; 03-06-10 at 06:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudcrab View Post
    Well thanks for clearing that up Joey, the people that are doing the installs at my Mum's retirement village told all the residents that it was, and there are 125 1.5kw installs being done there over the next month or so. I'll tell 'em to check out the ATO site now.
    Especially as our esteemed leader Mr Rudd says otherwise


    If anyone has a link to the ATO saying otherwise please post it up.
    Last edited by admin; 03-06-10 at 07:12 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    What a load of Shite!! , a 1KW system averages 4kwh per day , the average Australian usage is 16KWH per day but most are much higher.
    .
    Is the 16 KWH average for a Qld house,with no aircon or heating ?
    They could be hippys too

    I have 4 fridges(1 is a wine fridge),pump for water tank, electric cooking and electric hot water and use $280 a quarter.If i got a supermarket closer than 1 and a half hours away could go down to 1 fridge and solar hot water is on the way.I would probably more than halve that,add 1kw system I would be close to free maybe???

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    About 12 months ago I set about reducing my household electricity consumption which at that stage was 14 kw./day - two people - solar hot water - air con. [used sensibly] - gas heating - close to Brisbane.
    Stage one was to replace most lights with CFL's and replace the plasma TV with LCD.
    This saw daily consumption drop to about 8kw. average on the next bill.
    Stage two was the installation of a 1kw. photovoltaic system. Daily averages on the two bills since installation have been 5.4 & 5.8 kw. During this time I have fed about 50 kwh. per month back into the grid which, under the Qld. system, is credited at 50c. per kwh.
    To get the best out of solar power [Qld. system] you must educate yourself to use as little power as possible during strong sunlight hours as that power is worth 50c./kwh. to you fed back into the grid, as against 17.13c./kwh. drawn from the grid.
    I have recently removed some trees that were causing shadows on the system and have picked up almost 1kw. per day so further improvement is on the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by premsat View Post
    To get the best out of solar power [Qld. system] you must educate yourself to use as little power as possible during strong sunlight hours as that power is worth 50c./kwh.
    Unfortunately this is where air conditioners chew it all up in summer months in NQ.

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    I don't have air con or need it
    Central Qld is a Hawaiian climate sea breezes every day
    Ceiling fans used at night maybe for 2 weeks in the middle of summer.

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    Yeah well when I was younger and healthier I didn't need it either. But older age and poor health get taken down in the heat and 99% humidity day and night for months. The further north you go, the worse it gets. I'll pay any money for AC.

    In any case "need" is different from one person to another. All we really need is food, clothing and shelter. Electricity is a luxury.
    Last edited by Learjet; 04-06-10 at 12:41 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanity View Post
    Especially as our esteemed leader Mr Rudd says otherwise


    If anyone has a link to the ATO saying otherwise please post it up.
    Ok there are 2 categories , you are either a taxpayer or your not ( pension / social security , etc )

    This is one of many private rulings from the ATO , it's a blanket response to anyone who who is a taxpayer earning from their PV system.

    Ruling

    1. Are credits or payments you receive for power generated by solar panels on your residence, assessable for income tax?

    Answer: No.

    2. Are you entitled to either an outright deduction or a decline in value deduction for the cost of the solar panels?

    Answer: No.

    3. Are you entitled to any deductions in relation to funds borrowed in order to purchase the solar panels?

    Answer: No.



    ---------------------

    Pensioners etc , there is a lot of the "sky is falling" if they have PV installed scare mongering going on , fueled by uninformed posts in forums then by the time it filters down through the rumor mill to those who it effects ( pensioners ) they are unnecessarily worried.



    Pay special attention to this part

    "On 14 May 2010 the Government announced that feed-in tariffs paid as an electricity account credit will not be assessed as income for pension purposes."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    Ok there are 2 categories , you are either a taxpayer or your not ( pension / social security , etc )

    This is one of many private rulings from the ATO , it's a blanket response to anyone who who is a taxpayer earning from their PV system.

    Ruling

    1. Are credits or payments you receive for power generated by solar panels on your residence, assessable for income tax?

    Answer: No.

    2. Are you entitled to either an outright deduction or a decline in value deduction for the cost of the solar panels?

    Answer: No.

    3. Are you entitled to any deductions in relation to funds borrowed in order to purchase the solar panels?

    Answer: No.



    ---------------------

    Pensioners etc , there is a lot of the "sky is falling" if they have PV installed scare mongering going on , fueled by uninformed posts in forums then by the time it filters down through the rumor mill to those who it effects ( pensioners ) they are unnecessarily worried.



    Pay special attention to this part

    "On 14 May 2010 the Government announced that feed-in tariffs paid as an electricity account credit will not be assessed as income for pension purposes."
    I'm curious as to what " uninformed forum posts " you are referring to.


    From what I have just read, prior to 14 May 2010, it was counted as income.

    The link I posted was dated 26 April 2010 with the government stating it was counted. Come 14 May 2010 and that decision is reversed.....to a degree.

    If pensioners receive a credit on their bill its not counted as income. If the power company gives them a check and pays the amount in to their bank account it is counted as income.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanity View Post
    If pensioners receive a credit on their bill its not counted as income. If the power company gives them a check and pays the amount in to their bank account it is counted as income.
    I didn't know there were still energy companies that gave out cheques I was under the impression this practice was abandoned in favour of credits on their bill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanity View Post
    I'm curious as to what " uninformed forum posts " you are referring to.


    From what I have just read, prior to 14 May 2010, it was counted as income.

    The link I posted was dated 26 April 2010 with the government stating it was counted. Come 14 May 2010 and that decision is reversed.....to a degree.

    If pensioners receive a credit on their bill its not counted as income. If the power company gives them a check and pays the amount in to their bank account it is counted as income.
    There are quite a few forums and newsgroups where people are still continuing down the "pensioners should avoid Solar" road., there has been very little here on Austech about the subject but no surprise when it does come up the only link is to an old news story with this dramatic headline!
    "kevin-rudd-stings-pensioners-for-going-green"

    As pensioners are not buying massive systems with the intent of making money out of them but simply to reduce their power bills there is nothing at all for them to worry about , it will not be accessed as income because they will basically never make enough to be in a situation where there would need to be a check or money paid into their bank account.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sanity
    If anyone has a link to the ATO saying otherwise please post it up.
    As solar power is not exclusive to pensioners and it's not the ATO they are accountable too , it's centerlink , I have provided a link that clearly states income from PV is not taxable income as far as the ATO is concerned.

    As far as I can see there is absolutely nothing for Pensioners to worry about and if they can afford to install a PV system it could help them live more comfortably, An added bonus is it will also partially insulate them from future energy price rises.

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