(Originally published on RenewEconomy by Sophie Vorrath)
The first of the federal government’s Solar Towns Programme grants have been awarded to eight community groups across Tasmania.
The Solar grants, capped at $20,000 each, provide for the purchase and installation of either rooftop solar PV, a solar hot water system, or a solar heat pump hot water system on existing buildings (one year or older) which provide support to the local community.
The winning Tassie communities include Bagdad, Bicheno, Gagebrook, New Norfolk, Nubeena, Oatlands, Sorell and St Helens.
The $2.1 million Solar Towns Programme was established as part of the Abbott government’s Plan for a Cleaner Environment – part of the Coalition’s tiny and rapidly diminishing concession to the Australian renewables market, made alongside the One Million Roofs and Solar Schools programmes.
When details of the program were originally released, Hunt said his government would provide $50 million each for Solar Towns and Solar Schools.
Back in September 2013, the Coalition revealed plans to strip the Australian Renewable Energy Agency of $150 million in funds over three years to help pay for the million solar rooftops plan.
The Coalition also decided last year that the rebates offered under the millions solar roofs program would be cut from $1,000 per household to $500.
For Solar Towns, grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 are being made available to select regions around the country through a competitive grants processes over the next three years: $0.5m in 2014-15, $1.35m in 2015-16, and up to $0.25m in 2016-17.
The latest call for applications has gone out to community organizations from the Surf Coast Shire of Victoria, and closes 2pm on Friday 20 February 2015.
“I strongly encourage community groups such as sports clubs, service clubs and community health services to consider making an application,” said federal environment minister Greg Hunt in a statement on Friday.