The Victorian 2019/20 Budget has included measures to drive down energy prices for consumers and boost solar energy uptake.

The budget includes an investment of $1.3 billion to roll out the next phase of the Solar Homes Package.

From 1 July, rebates will be available for solar panels, hot water systems, batteries and zero-interest loans so Victorian households can install half price solar with no up-front costs.

As promised at the election, the scheme will be expanded to include renters – ensuring Victorians have access to cheaper, more reliable power whether they own or rent their home.

The ten-year Solar Homes program is boosting energy supply, driving down power bills and creating a huge pipeline of work for the industry in Victoria – supporting jobs across the state.

The Budget also includes $27.27 million as part of one of the biggest shake ups of energy regulation seen in Victoria for decades.

As promised, the Essential Services Commission will get an extra Commissioner who will be tasked with prosecuting misbehaving energy retailers who’ve been able to get away with rogue practices.

Alongside implementing an energy default offer, the Labor Government’s Energy Fairness Plan will double civil penalty notices to $250,000 for retailers who undertake wrongful disconnections – making it the highest fine of its type in the nation.

Criminal penalties are also being upped to $1 million for energy retailers who mislead or deceive customers, or systematically and wrongfully disconnect households.

The Energy Fairness Plan also gives the Commission clearer investigatory powers, as well as new powers to monitor and report on the Victorian retail energy market and crack down on retailers doing the wrong thing.

The Commission will take action if retailers ignore the government’s ban on ‘win-backs’ – so-called short-term discounts that end up costing customers more in the long run.

Minister for Energy, Environment, Climate Change and Solar Homes, Lily D’Ambrosio, said “We promised to put power back in the hands of Victorians and get them a fairer deal on power prices – that’s what we are doing.”

“Our landmark Solar Homes program is boosting supply, driving down energy prices and creating thousands of jobs – it’s an investment in the future of our economy and our work to tackle climate change.”

Victorian Assistant Treasurer, Robin Scott, said “We’re making the rules fairer for energy consumers and putting a tough cop on the beat to crackdown on companies that do the wrong thing.”

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