The Government today announced that it would not be proceeding with Rounds 1 and 2 of the Green Start program. The program was to provide energy assessments to assist households to become sustainable through information and advice.
The decision was announced by the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, with the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus. At the same time they confirmed that to assist currently contracted assessors, the Green Loans program would be extended.
In July this year, the Government announced that the Green Start program would replace the Green Loans program by the end of 2010. With the changes announced today, the current Green Loans program will instead be extended, allowing more household assessments to be delivered under that program. Green Loans will now finish on February 28, 2011.
The Government has made this decision following consideration of a number of reports and Departmental assessments. In particular, following the release of the Auditor-General’s (ANAO) report in September 2010 into Green Loans (which post-dated the announcement of the new program, Green Start, in July)¬ the Department identified a number of risks which now indicate the Green Start Program cannot be implemented with satisfactory mitigation of risk.
"One of the major risks associated with Round 1 of the Green Start program was a reliance on poor quality data on assessments collected under the Green Loans program. The Department found that these risks could not be mitigated to a satisfactory extent. This advice has informed the Government’s decision not to proceed with the program," Mr Combet said.
"The Government remains committed to supporting effective energy efficiency measures and remains committed to assisting households -- particularly low income households -- to improve their energy efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint and make savings on their energy costs," Mr Dreyfus said.
Notwithstanding the decision to not proceed with Green Start Rounds 1 and 2, the Government will continue to ensure that Federal programs to assist low income households to save energy and reduce their energy costs are implemented, and in the most effective and efficient ways possible.
The Government is aware that this decision will impact on the home sustainability industry and has designed assistance measures to help assist during the adjustment to the cancellation of Green Start and the closure of Green Loans.
Extension of current Green Loans program
To assist currently contracted assessors the Green Loans program, which was planned to end in late 2010, will now be extended to February 28, 2011. This will provide a transitional period for the current assessor workforce to identify opportunities to diversify or prepare to undertake training for new employment opportunities in the sector.
New Assistance Schemes for Green Loans Assessors
To further assist those affected by this decision $30 million set aside from the Green Start program will be used to provide assistance to uncontracted Green Loans assessors and to assist accredited assessors receive further training.
This includes a $15 million professional development scheme to assist accredited assessors further develop their professional skills and credentials.
The professional development scheme will assist in building the professionalism of the home sustainability industry and enable a smooth transition to future employment opportunities for accredited assessors.
Under this scheme the Government will refund 50 per cent of the tuition fees (up to $2,500) for accredited assessors that enrol in the new Certificate IV in Home Sustainability Assessment. Payments will be available for those enrolling in courses commencing before 30 June 2012.
In addition, a $15 million scheme will be delivered to assist uncontracted assessors who undertook the necessary measures to become accredited Green Loans assessors, but were not contracted to deliver services under the program.
Under this scheme direct financial support of up to $3,000 will be provided to cover a number of specific costs incurred during the accreditation process. It is expected that these payments would be delivered by 31 December 2011.
The Government will continue to liaise with the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors, other industry representatives and community groups on these issues.
Further details of the two schemes will be provided by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in the first quarter of 2011.
Further information on this announcement is available by calling the Department on 1300 778 451 or at www.climatechange.gov.au/greenloans.