Anthony Albanese’s government has been called after energy minister Chris Bowen suggested struggling Aussies put solar panels on their roof to cope with rising power prices.

Electricity prices in some states have seen hikes between 19 to 25 per cent under a new default market offer set by the energy regulator from July 1.

That’s after the Albanese government’s election promise of cutting power bills for households by $275 a year by 2025.

On Monday night, ABC 7:30 report host Sarah Fergusun asked Bowen how families can best protect themselves against the rising prices.

‘I know the demand for solar is absolutely massive. You can reduce your power bill very substantially by putting solar panels on your roof,’ he suggested.

But Ferguson hit back, saying: ‘That’s assuming you have got the money to put those panels on your roof.’

Solar panels cost between $4,000 and $16,000 to install after various government rebates.

Many Aussies also hit back at the advice on social media.

‘Switch to solar? Who pays for the initial installation cost? Talk about out of touch,’ one said.

A second added: ‘I looked at going solar in my new house. The payback period is 15 years, so why would i do it? Cheaper to stick to my regular supply and use woodfire and gas to heat the home.’

A third said: ‘I don’t care if I offend Labor partry supporters but I thought Chris Bowen’s appearance on 7:30 was a waste of time and an insult to those doing it tough.

‘Absolutely gobsmacking when he told people switching to solar was a way of coping with rising power prices this winter.’

Earlier in the programme, Fergusun asked the minister whether he was ‘prepared’ to still commit to the promise of slashing bills by $275.

‘Certainly. We were elected with a mandate to increase the proportion of renewables in our electricity grid because that is better for emissions and better for bills and we are 100 per cent committed to doing that,’ Bowen responded.

‘And yes, the modelling showed the impact of that policy by 2025.’

He conceded that there was ‘very difficult international circumstances’ having an effect on prices. Still, he remained firm that the government was ‘not walking away from the agenda on which we were elected’.

‘That’s the agenda, what about the commitment to lower prices by 2025?’ Ferguson responded.

Bowen stressed that the government was ‘committed’ to investing in more renewables to reduce prices.

‘As I said, we are not walking away from our commitment to get more renewables into the system and yes, they are the cheapest form of energy available, the cheapest form of energy that has ever been available and that does mean that power prices will be lower than they otherwise would be, absolutely,’ he said.

He added that the government was considering a medium and longer-term plan to lower bills on top of the energy rebate.

Bowen was grilled over rising electricity prices by TV host Sarah Ferguson (pictured) on the ABC's current affairs program, 7:30

 Bowen was grilled over rising electricity prices by TV host Sarah Ferguson (pictured) on the ABC’s current affairs program, 7:30

Anthony Albanese (pictured alongside Chris Bowen) made a pre-election promise to reduce power bills for households by $275 a year by 2025

Anthony Albanese (pictured alongside Chris Bowen) made a pre-election promise to reduce power bills for households by $275 a year by 2025

The ABC host asked whether there was a consideration for ‘middle Australia’ as the energy bill relief was primarily supported households struggling the most.

‘We are talking about a $500 to $1,000 increase in energy costs for people who are already struggling with cost pressures,’ she said. 

‘Now the Labor Government came to power with broad support from middle Australia. How much is this going to hurt you politically?’

Bowen argued that he ‘wasn’t a political commentator’ and his job was focused on policy.

‘I’m primarily a policymaker, not a commentator and it is my job to put the right policies before the government and the Parliament and the people and that’s exactly the job I am getting on with doing,’ he responded.

‘Yes, there be, you know, all sorts of free commentary from an opposition that took four gigawatts of dispatchable power out of the system and only put one gigawatt on which will has lead to, in no small measure, a lot of the pressures we are dealing with now.’

‘But to your question about the politics, Sarah, I think that many Australians look at this and know that the previous government left a mess, that there were 22 failed energy policies.’

‘They know that energy prices are under pressure right around the world, but they see a government being honest about it but we’ve also taken action with the intervention that we brought about last year, which was a very substantial and controversial intervention, but was absolutely necessary for all the reasons you are correctly identifying.’

Bowen was unable to forecast a time when bills would come down as prices were ‘fluctuating internationally’ due to the ‘pressure coming out of Europe’.

When asked about whether there would be future hikes to power bills, Bowen said that would be determined by what was happening across the globe, in particular the war in Ukraine.

Ferguson then asked: ‘Does that mean that we should gear ourselves up for future price rises, further price rises?’ 

Bowen responded saying: ‘Well, let’s see what happens in Ukraine and Russia. Let’s see what happens across the board.’

It comes a month after the Australian Energy Market Operator warned that high electricity prices could ‘linger’ in the country for years without significant investment in renewable energy to replace coal-fired power as it’s phased out. 

DailyMail

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