So, what can you do?
Being clear about the context described above is Step 1. It’s big and complex and solar is just a cog. You can’t walk in to a back-bencher’s office and expect to get any traction bleating about your political persuasion or beliefs, but knowing what is driving them helps you wear their shoes for a minute. So now we can come to where the RET fits in their world, in their context.
Frankly, I reckon all the collective efforts of our industry groups are on the right track if a little biased by their own agenda’s but that’s ok; it gives us a healthy level of diversity and a range of bows with which to fire our arrows. So Step 2 is to pick your favourite advocacy group (or solar industry consultant!) , support the crap out of them and follow their game plan. Work together.
Step 3 is to focus on the staggering array of facts that demonstrate why at a political and emotional level, the RET is not the problem. Perhaps most specifically, summarise them down in short, succinct snippets but have the detail and references behind them ready, if they want it. Some key facts which (along with others) we’ll keep building on, is below. FWIW, much of the cost and effort in this campaign is about the time to collect, analyse and summarise this information so don’t forget to support the analysts!
Step 4 is to use these facts to educate politicians. Perhaps surprisingly, there is an incredible lack of understanding and knowledge (or denial) about the facts about the RET amongst politicians so your efforts can reap enormous dividends here. A classic example is the grossly misleading statements made by Victorian Member Kelly O’Dwyer yesterday, which I felt compelled to respond to in an email and on her Facebook page and on Twitter. If every one of the more than 4000 solar companies sent one staff member for a 1 hour meeting they would be inundated. Is it worth a 1 hour investment to your business and livelihood?
Step 5 is to leverage your customer databases. By the end of 2013 more than 1.2 million homes had PV installed, representing more than 3.3 million voters, and the vast majority really, really love their solar systems. That means that solar voters represent at least 22 percent of the entire voting population and it will more than likely grow to almost 30 percent by the end of 2014. If every solar company emailed every customer and asked them to get vocal and express their support, politicians would be inundated. Use your best marketing panache to motivate and incentivize them to do something.
Step 6 is about talking to your local media outlets, newspapers regional radio stations. This is as important and powerful as talking to your local member. They want stories, you want coverage, so pick up the phone.
Step 7 is all about using social media, which is enormously and increasingly powerful and in almost everyone’s life. Make sure your leverage every opportunity you can to keep plugging the facts and messages out through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+.
Step 8 is to repeatedly focus on this one, simple, crucial fact courtesy of the AEMC:
The SRES is virtually the only scheme that supports PV and in 2013/2014 adds around $0.005 to the average cost of electricity (assuming $0.27kWh ave) and is already declining. Therefore, removing or changing the SRES will have absolutely no meaningful impact on the price of electricity but will have an enormous impact on one of the fastest growth industries in the country.
Support your advocates.
The RET and SRES Fact Pack:
I have compiled all the great facts that many people and organisations have put together below and would like to acknowledge the great work that these groups are doing on your behalf. The RAA, ASC, CEC, Solar Citizens, the APVI, SEA and many more are working tirelessly behind the scenes for you.
IMPORTANTLY: These facts are based on a wide variety of sources (which I’ll reference in a future update). It is crucial to understand that many of us present the same data in different ways to get different points across so be ver clear when you are quoting facts — its easy to get them mixed up.
An example is the cost of the SRES. It can be described as a percent of average annual or quarterly electricity costs, a dollar value in the average cost per kWh of electricity or a dollar value per day. Generally, the cost is talked about excluding the benefits and values (eg lowered wholesale electricity costs), but in some cases it is quoted including estimates of the extra value as a more true representation of its real cost.
Feel free to pick and choose facts that are most relevant to the people you are talking to.