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Hydro diddled on solar power deal

May 18, 2011: After investing over $55,000 on solar panels for his new, expanded premises, Hydro Photographics’ Paul Dawson is set to miss out on around $15,000 of feed-in tariffs after the NSW Government reneged on its Solar Bonus Scheme feed-in tariff promise.

Hydro Photographics is a specialist independent professional photography business located in Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast. It offers an array of services from schools photography through to weddings and portraits and commercial work, employing 12 staff.

Paul Dawson is currently the Australian chairperson of the Professional Schools Photography Association (PSPA).

Hydro Photographics moved into new premises last year, expanding the operation from 200 sq metres to a spacious 450 sq metres, and Mr Dawson decided to use the opportunity to make the business more environmentally friendly, installing 10 kilowatts of solar panels on the roof, at the cost of $55,000.

With the feed-in tariff of 60 cents per kilowatt-hour offered by the NSW state government via the Solar Bonus Scheme, the solar panels would have partially amortised the investment over the 5-year life of the Solar Bonus Scheme.

However, this month the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher, stunned and disappointed Mr Dawson and the many thousands of households and small businesses that had in good faith made investments in solar energy, by announcing that the 60-cent tariff was to be reduced to 40 cents from 1 July 2011.

He also closed the scheme to new applicants at the same time.

“We put the panels in on the basis of not only “doing the right thing”, but it was a good business decision. We took the government on its word, crunched the numbers and said “yep, that works”!’ said Mr Dawson.

‘What they’ve basically done is suckered people into getting the panels, then changed the legislation because they stuffed up on how much it has cost them. I don’t have a problem with them changing the deal, but to do it retrospectively is a completely unethical thing to do. I am so angry at the lies that both governments expect us to put us up with’.

Carving 30 percent off the feed-in tariff will cost Hydro Photographics around $3000 per year – a total of $15,000 over the life of the scheme.

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