Friday, March 11, 2011

Solar Hot Water Rebates Now Being Paid

Thousands of homeowners who installed solar hot water can expect to finally receive their rebates by the middle of March.

About 8000 Australians have been waiting beyond the accepted eight-week timeframe for their rebates, worth between $1000 and $1600 each.

The federal government blamed a computer software problem for the backlog, but has reportedly rushed in a team of extra workers to help clear the list.

The energy efficiency department's Alex Rankin told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday that people could expect to get their money by the middle of next month.

Ms Rankin could not say how long homeowners had been waiting, amid reports some rebates have been stalled by up to 19 weeks.

"It's hard to tell at the moment because (it's) part of the transition from the old IT system," she said.

The troublesome software transfer also meant the department was slowly uncovering new claims, previously unseen.

"So we're currently going through a forensic exercise to try and identify each one of those and their current status," Ms Rankin said.

Deputy secretary Martin Bowles earlier faced scrutiny over the government's botched home insulation program, under which 1.2 million homes were insulated.

There is about $700 million left in funding, even though the program itself was scrapped last year.

Mr Bowles denied some of the leftover money will go towards compensation.

"Yes, there are a number of claims on the department," he told the hearing.

"But that does not mean that we accept any of those, and we have not paid any of those.

"We don't necessarily agree that there is a legal claim against the commonwealth."

The axed stimulus scheme was linked to four deaths and house fires.


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