The Victorian Government has unveiled in its 2020/21 Budget a $1.6 billion clean energy investment – the largest investment of its kind in Australia.

The Budget will be used to create renewable energy hubs, upgrade crucial grid infrastructure, decarbonise the energy system, drive down emissions and support more Solar Homes.

The Victorian Government said spending more time at home in 2020 has meant more expensive bills for many families, and this investment will help hundreds of thousands of Victorian families drive down their energy costs, while supporting thousands of new Victorian jobs.

The Budget provides $540 million to establish six Renewable Energy Zones – from sunny Mildura to the windy east coast – unlocking new renewable energy investment that will support economic growth and jobs.

Renewable Energy Zones will be the energy hubs of the future – supporting businesses, jobs and towns across regional Victoria.

The Budget also provides $12.6 million to bring online more than 600MW of new, clean energy through The Victorian Government’s second renewable energy auction, to create enough energy to power 100 per cent of the Victorian Government with renewable energy – from public transport to schools and government buildings.

This investment will create enough energy to power more than 350,000 houses, support local manufacturing and jobs, and ensure the Government meets its increased legislated target of 50 per cent of electricity generation from renewable sources, which has been estimated to create around 24,000 jobs by 2030 and generate up to $5.8 billion in additional economic activity.

The Budget includes $108 million to prepare Victoria for innovative and transformational renewable energy and hydrogen projects – such as ground-breaking projects like Australia’s first offshore wind generator.

Hydrogen has the potential to transform manufacturing and households that currently use gas ultimately driving down emissions and better using Victoria’s existing gas infrastructure and skills.

Local communities will also benefit with $27 million for local energy projects that increase the use of clean energy like microgrids, neighbourhood batteries, bushfire resilience programs and community-owned renewable energy projects.

A further $21 million will help community groups to install renewable energy systems, storage and energy efficiency improvements at community buildings, and support the ResourceSmart Schools program, which teaches kids about ways to save energy, minimise waste and reduce Victoria’s impact on climate change.

Funding will go towards rolling out a fast-charging network for electric vehicles at sites covering major highways and key tourist destinations, creating more than jobs during construction and making electric vehicles a sustainable alternative.

In the biggest household energy package of any state in Australia’s history, $797 million will help more Victorians slash their bills and reduce emissions.

The investment includes $335 million to replace old, outdated and unhealthy wood or gas fired heaters with brand-new, energy-efficient, low-cost heating and cooling for 250,000 low-income households.

A further $112 million will upgrade heating, cooling or hot water appliances for 35,000 social housing properties – slashing bills for tenants and making their homes more comfortable.

Not only will this investment reduce energy prices, it will improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

The Victorian Government said it will also step in and help those facing more immediate hardship, with a one-off $250 payment for eligible concession card holders, including anyone receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or pension payments.

The direct bill relief is available to help an estimated 950,000 Victorian households who would otherwise struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Businesses will also benefit from $40 million in grants and support to install efficient, smart technologies to boost productivity and reduce bills – a move that will support jobs, save money and cut emissions.

More than 100,000 households have now installed half-priced power stations on their roof at no upfront cost through the Government’s Solar Homes program.

The State Government will provide $191 million to expand the program with an extra 42,000 solar panel rebates over the next two years.

Victorians will also be able to apply for a Solar Homes battery, with the Government providing 17,500 household battery rebates over the next three years. For the very first time, small businesses will be able to apply with 15,000 solar rebates for businesses.

Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “We’re driving our economic recovery from coronavirus with renewable, reliable energy that will save families money and support tens of thousands of Victorian jobs.

“It’s a three-in-one investment – establishing Renewable Energy Zones will create local jobs, reduce power prices and advance our work to tackle climate change.”

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