No-interest solar loans on table amid Palaszczuk's shock tactics with energy retailers

6th April 2018

No-interest loans will be offered for solar and battery installations as the Queensland Government faces criticism of its cost-of-living campaign.

With Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk threatening to re-enter the electricity retail market if her savings scheme is not passed on to customers, Energy Minister Mark Bailey today announced another pitch for power votes: $40 million in loans for solar and battery technology, and incentives for landlords.

"That enables those energy consumers who can't afford to invest in renewable energy," he said.

It came as Ms Palaszczuk vowed to "name and shame" electricity retailers she accused of not passing on savings from her Government's cost-of-living campaign in the lead-up to the imminent state election.

Solar loans 'to help reduce power bills'

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said no-interest loans would be offered to help those Queenslanders who did not have access to the upfront capital required to invest in solar and battery technologies.

"Solar panels and batteries are a great way for households and small businesses to cut their electricity bills, but for some the upfront cost can be a challenge," Mr Pitt said.

Mr Bailey said the Government would also undertake a trial program early next year to work with landlords and renters to enable the savings from solar to be shared.

"Under this trial program we will offer financial incentives to landlords to install solar systems and pass on savings to their tenants," he said.

Mr Pitt said the Government would also remove Ergon's "non-reversion" policy, which restricted regional electricity customers going back to the company.

"We recognise the desire of regional customers to have more choice of electricity retailers, so we will amend the current policy that prevents customers who switch away from Ergon Retail from returning," the Treasurer said.

'Pass on savings or Government will re-enter retail sector'

Ms Palaszczuk said she was giving more than a dozen companies until the end of the week to sign an "energy pledge", which would publicly commit them to reduce bills to reflect the Government's attempt to cut wholesale costs.

"Two companies — Origin and Alinta — have immediately said yes and I've asked the other retailers to get back to me by close of business Friday," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"I will be publicly listing those retailers that sign up to the pledge that we have discussed today."

The Premier will ask the Queensland Competition Authority to monitor and report quarterly.

"If all retailers do not pass on the savings to customers, I will order a re-entry by the Government into the retailing sector," she said.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls derided the $50 annual saving as tragic and laughable but Ms Palaszczuk defended the rebate announced on Sunday.

"The Opposition led by Tim Nicholls were laughing about these cuts," she said.

"Every single dollar counts for Queenslanders."

Mr Bailey said retailers also agreed to make electricity bills easier to understand.

"There's some concern that some of the standard offers are well above the market median," he said.

"It can be very confusing to people. We'd like to see simpler bills and there's been some commitments today to do so and that's very heartening."