What is the NSW Government’s Empowering Homes Program?

The NSW Government is planning to fund up to 300,000 interest-free loans on solar-battery & battery systems over the next 10 years as a part of their larger NSW solar rebate initiative. The NSW homeowner solar program is poised to begin in Summer 2019/2020. Be aware that the details of the program may still change! See below for how you can submit feedback to the government.

Who will be in charge of running the program?

The government will pick one or more organisations to manage the NSW solar incentive program, which they refer to as the ‘delivery partners’.

Key Facts

  • Battery-only systems will be covered up to $9,000. Hybrid solar-battery systems will be covered up to $14,000
  • The number of systems funded each year will be set by a quota which increases over the years. More about this below
  • Installers will be selected by a delivery partner through a tender process
  • The delivery partner handles sending the final quote to the Department for loan approval. This is likely to increase lead time between customer sign off and installation date
  • Any recommended certifications and accreditations to install a component will become a requirement
  • Minimum system installation warranty will be 10 years
  • The delivery partner will oversee warranty claims and customer complaints
  • The government plans to increase the number of inspections. Installers with a track record of failure will be removed from the Empowering Homes program
  • You and the delivery partner both give financial analysis of the system to clients
  • Solar component combinations are to be set by the NSW government

The Details

How many systems will be covered?

This NSW gov solar scheme will increase the number of systems over time. This is in recognition that the technology will improve, and so the price will come down. They suggest a quota of 8,000 in year 1, ramping up to 42,000 in year 8.  

What makes my installation business eligible?

The program will weigh in favour of NSW-based businesses. Additionally, the delivery partner will check:

  • CEC Approved Solar Retailer status
  • CEC accreditation for the design of grid-connected photovoltaic systems
  • CEC accreditation for the install of grid-connected photovoltaic systems
  • CEC endorsement to install grid-connected battery storage

They will also assess:

  • If you can handle the minimum 10 year warranty for workmanship, fittings, and fixtures
  • How you comply to the ACCC’s eventual New Energy Tech Consumer Code

Are there extra system design requirements?

  • Component combinations will be set by the government
  • Recommended training or accreditation for components will become a requirement
  • All solar components - panels, inverters, battery, BOS - must be covered by a minimum 10 year manufacturer’s product warranty
  • All systems must be virtual power plant ready

What do I provide to the delivery partner?

Evidence that the system design and installation is compliant.

When do I get paid?

The delivery partner sends you full payment from the capital provider after installation.

Will my repair and maintenance process change?

Yes, you will be working in conjunction with the delivery partner, as they will be monitoring and managing work related to projects approved under the Empowering Homes scheme.

What system financial analysis is requested?

  • Return on investment based on your customer’s current circumstances
  • The benefits and costs of each system option where provided
  • The lifetime potential net savings of the system

What will the state government do?

  • Select the capital provider and delivery partner(s)
  • Set requirements for approved systems and installers
  • Pay the interest on the loan and defaults in special circumstances; where stringent due diligence has been satisfied
  • Audit installations and the delivery partner

Which home-owners are eligible?

House owner-occupiers with combined household incomes of up to $180,000, for one system per home.

How many systems per home owner-occupier?

One at a time. Yes, they may have more than one system if they move and have paid off the loan for the system on the previous property.

What is the loan repayment period?

  • Up to eight years for solar-battery systems
  • Up to 10 years for battery systems
  • This can be lowered, but not increased

Conclusion

This isn’t the final form of the program. Some fine details may change between now and its start at the end of the year. But, it’s an interesting model and we’re eager to see how it turns out. We will be sure to give you an update when the program is finalised.

If you want to give feedback to the Department, you can complete the online survey and feedback form, or email your questions to empoweringhomes@planning.nsw.gov.au.