Victorian homeowners will get half-off the price of solar installation and pay the rest with an interest-free loan if Labor is re-elected in the November state poll.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the $1.24 billion program in a bid to get solar panels on 650,000 homes within 10 years.
Owner-occupiers with a combined income below $180,000, whose home is worth up to $3 million, will be eligible under the deal from July next year.
The government would pay for the installation of a 4kW system up to $4450 upfront, and half that would be repaid by the home over four years.
“Families tell me this all the time, the biggest barrier to putting solar on your roof is the up-front cost,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.
Eligible families moving ahead with solar installation prior to next July will receive a 50 per cent rebate valued up to $2225.
The opposition quickly drew a comparison to the former federal Labor government’s deadline pink batts installation scheme, which was linked to the deaths of four workers between in 2009 and 2010.
The state government said safety would be paramount in its Solar Homes program.
The package includes $9 million to support accreditation of 4500 electricians to install approved products.
A new independent agency, Solar Victoria, will work with the industry, regulators and training organisations to deliver the program.
The government says it will create 5500 new jobs and save homes about $890 a year on power bills.
“We know that families are doing it tough. The time for describing the problem is over. We have to take action, and that’s exactly what this policy does,” Mr Andrews said.
The package is also slated to cut carbon emissions by almost four million tonnes, equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.
It would go 12.5 per cent of the way towards Victoria’s 40 per cent renewable energy target by 2025.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has pledged to ditch the state’s renewable energy target if elected in November.
Shadow Energy Minister David Southwick said Solar Homes was the sequel to the pink batts disaster.
“Daniel Andrews needs to explain how he will safeguard families and homes from being scammed by telemarketers and installers with no experience that will flood the system under this scheme,” Mr Southwick said in a statement.
He noted pensioners and renters wouldn’t benefit from the scheme, and said the plan felt “undercooked”.
“There’s no money in there for running the agency or the running of the loan scheme,” he told AAP.
Mr Andrews flagged more energy announcements were on the way for renters.
The announcement comes less than a week after Mr Andrews declared privatisation of electricity production had forced bills up.
When asked if privatisation should never have happened, Mr Andrews said people could “make up their own minds” by looking at their bills.
But he also said the state would not be buying back power plants.
“We can’t afford to go back and buy those power stations. Instead we’ll put a power station on everybody’s roof.”
Moorabbin residents Rik and Susannah Bowen-Wheatley told reporters their family of five has wanted to install solar panels, but the up-front costs had been prohibitive.
“We manage, but our winter bill was over $1000. I can think of other things I would rather be doing with that,” Ms Bowen-Wheatley said.
Environment Victoria said the government announcement was a “game-changer”.
“After years of tedious energy debates in Australia, this is the kind of leadership and vision we’ve been waiting for and shows that states can lead the way in responding to our climate and energy crises,” Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said in a statement.