A report to be published today by Andrew Macintosh, for the Australia Institute, provides a damning indictment of the federal government’s support scheme for residential solar PV and highlights the chaos and the huge costs created by multiple, badly co-ordinated and poorly conceived support schemes.

The scheme -- known under the Howard government as the Photovoltaic Rebate Program but rebranded by Labor as the Solar Homes and Communities Program -- was introduced in 2000 and finally closed, with less than 24 hours notice, in early 2009 when the costs got out of control.

Macintosh, associate director for the ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy, notes that for most of the time under the Howard government, the rebate was regularly scaled back at the first sign of extra demand. While this kept costs under control, it also stifled investment and it didn’t appear to achieve any of its stated goals, which were to reduce emissions, support a local industry, engage the community and promote renewables.