Getting Solar Installed During Stage 4 COVID-19 Restrictions

Solar in Victoria during the pandemic

The COVID-19 restrictions have had a major impact on a range of industries thus far, affecting supply chains and the staffing of solar providers and government institutions alike. However, this doesn’t mean that it is more difficult to get solar in Victoria at present – but there may be waiting periods.

More information on “The Benefits of Solar During COVID-19” is available in a previous article, but this post will break it down slightly, with a focus on how solar providers and governments are supporting homeowners switchover to solar during the pandemic.

One thing to note is that even though many businesses have had their business operations restricted until 13th September 2020 – wherein the Victorian Government will re-assess based on the current pandemic data –the solar industry is still able to operate, providing the same level of service and quality of products, albeit it adapted slightly.

What this ultimately mean is that solar companies Victoria are providing a service that is contactless during stage four restrictions. But how is it affecting the waiting times for getting solar installed?

Delays caused by restrictions

Part of the stage four restrictions are preventing businesses from operating at full capacity, meaning that there will be less staff available. Another factor is that business hours have also been cut. This has a compounding effect, which means that there are fewer people available to speak to in a shorter period daily.

This inevitably means customers will have longer waiting and turn-around times for getting advice and seeking quotes in most industries.

Experts are advising people wanting to get a solar panel system installed at their home to start searching for quotes now and making contact with companies sooner rather than later, as the knock-on effects of COVID-19 will likely result in price increases within the next few months.

Even if there are delays in getting in touch with solar providers during the current restrictions, it will benefit to push through those inevitable delays so that you can maximize the amount of savings you’ll get with solar, while at the same time, minimizing upfront costs.

The installation

Installations of solar panel systems are unable to occur during the current stage four restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne. In saying that, solar panel system installations are permitted at “small-scale” building sites, which includes any unoccupied residences – in the case of new builds and renovations made by homeowners. It should be noted that this is only if the solar provider and construction company adhere to the worksite’s COVID-safe plan and daily employee limits.

The Victorian Government has also stated that over-the-phone quotes can still be given, and crucial repairs made for health and safety reasons.

The customer

If you are anew or current solar customer, the following assistance is available:

  • If you are currently paying off a Solar Victoria loan, you can request to put your repayments on hold for up to a maximum of 6 months and also extend your contracted term for these repayments by 6 months.
  • If you need to secure signatures for documentation regarding your eligibility for the Victorian Government’s ‘Solar Homes ’rebate or loan, and are having difficulty getting those identification documents certified due to the stage four restrictions, you can request an exemption or workaround for this process.
  • If you already have approval for the Victorian Government’s ‘Solar Homes’ rebate or loan, but are now unable to complete the installation of a solar panel system within 120 days due to the current restrictions– which may involve self-isolation, shortages in installation experts or social distancing – you can request to have an extension of the installation period.

What else do I need to know?

Solar Victoria has worked with the Smart Energy Council and Clean Energy Council in Australia to provide a great deal of support in the form of advice, tips, and resources to consumers and the solar industry alike to allow and encourage COVID-safe operations for the months to come. This has been put into force due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and how further waves of the virus are a likely probability.

This means that the solar industry at large will be taking the restrictions seriously and strictly following the criteria set out by the State and Federal Governments.

While it may not be a good time for some people to think about going solar in Victoria, Solar Victoria has stated that there are still plenty of solar rebates available alongside incredibly generous subsidies. So, it may be worth considering doing the research now and arranging to get quotations sooner rather than later.

One last thing to note is that the costs of “small-scale technology certificates” (STCs) are currently at an all-time high, being close to their maximum value. (STCsare generated when you setup anew renewable energy system such as a solar PV system). You can find out more about STCs in the article “How Solar Can Reduce Your Electricity Costs.”

Post-pandemic Victoria

Many people are speculating what will happen to the solar industry post-pandemic, but it is a difficult situation to assess. Experts across many fields are speculating whether or not it will have an impact on how people use electricity (such as the costs related to working from home), utility providers and electricity rates, and the knock-on effect that any disruptions in the production process will have.

However, one aspect of this is certain – prices are projected to increase over the coming months for solar panel systems and installations.

What this means for the average customer is that it is better to start your research now as it will ensure you can reap the most benefits, the most savings, and get your solar system installed sooner rather than later.

Combining this with the fact that there is a fantastic range of incentives on offer, such as the Victorian Government’s ‘Solar Homes’ rebate and loan, it makes now a perfect time to take action.

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