[Fourth of a series of blog posts about sessions at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas on Saturday 22nd October]
Next up was the launch of Solar Citizens. It covered the ‘solar rooftop revolution’ (1.5million Australian houses with solar panels, from a basically standing start 8 years ago), the start of solar citizens and its plans for a ‘fair and orderly transition.’
This was done via an engaging talk that took in President Carter’s 1979 installation of solar panels on the roof of the Whitehouse, Reagan’s 1986 removal, and Obama’s 2014 re-installation (by which time the price had dropped by a factor of 40). In the last few years the rooftop solar ‘revolution’ has at a conservative estimate, 19000 jobs, reduced energy bills and 24 million tonnes of carbon saved. An interesting comparison was made with the millennium drought, which also brought a sense of personal connection/responsibility for consumption patterns.
Solar Citizens’ origins were linked to the ‘direct attacks’ on renewables emanating from the big ‘gentailers’ (Origin, AGL and Energy Australia) and the owners of the transmission lines (the ticket clippers).
In May 2015 they’d proposed a solar surchage of $100 per year on people with panels in South Australia, simply to raise revenue. Thus do incumbents defend themselves…. The regulator (AER) said ‘nope’, it went to court and the courts said ‘nope’, while local groups rallied, petitioned and generally raised cain (effectively).
Solar Citizens are also trying to get ‘big solar’ on the agenda. They’ve combined with Get Up! To produce a ‘Homegrown Power Plan’ .
Here’s their video-
It seeks to remove roadblocks , ‘reboot the system’ [e.g. end the situation where people only get a derisory amount for energy they sell back from to power companies, that then flog it on at ‘normal’ prices to other customers) and repower the country” (concentrated solar thermal etc).
These sorts of normative entrepreneurship efforts are crucial to any transition, be it energy, food or whatever. They often get written out of the official histories (we can’t have citizens making a difference, after all, they might get wrong ideas about democracy and their own power!], but boy do they matter…
There’s a Solar Citizens event on October 31 in Adelaide. Sadly there was no time for questions – I’d have asked about their relationship (competition?) with BZE…