Election 2023: Labour promises $4000 solar panel rebate

Hipkins said New Zealand needed to increase renewable generation.
Hipkins said New Zealand needed to increase renewable generation. Photo credit: Newshub.

Labour is promising rebates of up to $4000 on rooftop solar panels and battery installations, and an extra $20 million for community energy projects.

It expects to also fit another 1000 Kāinga Ora homes with solar panels each year.

This comes on top of the decarbonising rebate policy announced in the past fortnight.

The party launched its solar policy on Monday, saying it would help increase renewable generation and reduce reliance on the national grid.

It would give up to $2000 for installation of rooftop solar panels on a home, plus up to $2000 for installing a battery.

Separately, the party would put $20m of new funding into a community energy projects fund, aiming to put more renewable energy into the grid and help lower power bills nationwide.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said the policy would aim to double rooftop solar generation in New Zealand, though his initial statement gave no deadline for this.

"There are well over 40,000 New Zealand homes getting cheaper, clean electricity with rooftop solar - this will more than double that with approximately 60,000 more rooftop solar systems," he said.

He said New Zealand needed to increase renewable generation by 68 percent by 2050, and this policy would help.

"Experience from projects funded through our Community Renewable Energy Fund shows household solar panels can reduce energy bills by up to 50 percent. That's a saving of up to $850 a year."

Labour's Energy spokesperson Megan Woods said the extra funding for community energy would go towards things like mini urban solar farms, which "provide revenue to those with spare commercial roof space by installing solar panels which feedback into the grid".

"By transitioning the bulk of our energy generation to renewable sources, like wind, solar and hydro in a fiscally responsible way, we can better protect New Zealanders from international pressures on energy prices like we have seen over the last two years with the war in Ukraine.

"We can either remain vulnerable to volatile global economic forces or follow Labour's affordable plan that boosts energy production, reduces emissions, lowers energy bills, and positions New Zealand with a future proof economy."

Labour's earlier decarbonising rebate policy promised up to $18,000 in rebates for "deep retrofits" to homes - upgrading a whole house all at once by installing double glazing, insulation, airtightness upgrades and replacing gas heating and hot water - or up to $7000 for partial retrofits, and up to $3000 for replacing gas connections with electric.

In a statement, Greenpeace said it supported the policy, having campaigned for years for politicians to commit to solarising New Zealand, and called for further action.

"We are pleased to see Labour come through with a commitment to boost household and community energy. It's common sense and something that many New Zealanders want," Greenpeace Aotearoa spokesperson Amanda Larsson said.

"After introducing the globally significant ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration, this Labour Government has done very little to address climate pollution, so it's good to see Labour commit to a new policy like this. But we need to see much more.

"To date, New Zealand has really lagged behind our peers when it comes to helping households make their own clean power from the sun."

She said overseas examples showed local ownership was essential to generate buy-in for renewable energy and ensure benefits for local people and communities, which would in turn accelerate uptake.

She said any party that was serious about climate change also needed ambitious policies to regulate dairy, and divert road spending towards rail, public transport and cycling.


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