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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2531..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Point (b) of my motion calls on the government to introduce a form of loan scheme to facilitate house owners increasing the energy efficiency of their properties and to enable them to install solar hot water heaters. This is focused on reducing demand. The Centre for Renewable Energy has proposed a program they call "solarisation", which is essentially this, but the motion today is not specifying details of the loan system. The centre's briefing note on their proposal is as follows:

Initial solarizations could focus on the items with the most clear-cut financial benefit. This would increase the probability that the scheme is commercially successful. In approximate order this would be ceiling insulation, draught proofing, house zoning and low-flow shower heads, followed by solar water heaters and wall and floor insulation followed by photovoltaic systems and double glazing.

Solarization will create a substantial number of new jobs in the local community. The scheme fits very well with the building energy rating scheme in several states. Early solarization companies will be well placed to dominate the national solarisation market that is likely to develop in a few years time. The risk is low because the debt is secured against the building and is repayable within the guaranteed period of the equipment. Large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are likely.

It is clear that one of the barriers to massive retrofitting of residential buildings is the upfront costs. Subsidies are helpful, and the experience of cool communities has been that receiving some kind of incentive has a big impact.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS TUCKER: However, the fact remains that to seriously improve the energy efficiency of a house-for instance, by insulating ceiling walls, floors, curtains, pelmets, double glazing windows and so on-is expensive up front. Andrew Blakers has estimated that, for a typical brick veneer home, it would cost around $8,000. The fact that it would be paid off through reduced energy consumption, making it a loan with clear means of paying it off, and the fact that it is for someone who owns their own home, make it a reasonably secure loan. However, the work does cost a lot of money up front. The government is able to borrow money at a lower cost. The government is in the position of trying to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and there are benefits for the community as a whole.

It may be that the best way to pay off the investment is through power bills, through rates, or through a more direct loan repayment system set at a rate to match the expected savings. A loan scheme is a means to facilitate the widespread retrofitting which is essential, without having government pay for it all, but with government playing a role in assisting people to make those changes.

My point (b) calls for a focus on landlords, for two reasons: firstly, tenants are not in a position to make major changes and they have to bear the energy costs. Energy costs are a contributor to poverty. Landlords are not living in the place, and so do not have the same personal incentive to pay off their investment through lower energy bills. The full

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