Sun shines on Latrobe Valley jobs

Premier Daniel Andrews inspects plans for the Latrobe Valley GovHub with developer Adam Bronts from Castlerock Property and Labor candidate for Morwell Mark Richards in May. file photograph
Premier Daniel Andrews inspects plans for the Latrobe Valley GovHub with developer Adam Bronts from Castlerock Property and Labor candidate for Morwell Mark Richards in May. file photograph

The Latrobe Valley will become the nerve centre of the Andrews government's plans to cut power bills through rooftop solar by becoming the home of the government authority tasked with overseeing the scheme, if Labor wins the November election.

Premier Daniel Andrews today announced 50 jobs would be created by the government's decision to base the new authority, Solar Victoria, at the Latrobe Valley GovHub which will be built at Church Street, Morwell.

Solar Victoria will be tasked with rolling out the Andrews government's $1.3 billion plan to provide half-price solar panels for 650,000 Victorian households over the next decade and solar hot water system rebates to a further 60,000 households.

"I'm confident that the authority down there in the Latrobe Valley will make sure this is rolled out properly with practical skills and common sense," Mr Andrews told The Express yesterday.

"On that basis I can't think of a better place to see those jobs and that authority located than in the GovHub."

The announcement takes the number of state government workers to be located in the GovHub to 200 following the announcement it would house 150 staff members from Earth Resources Regulation, Parks Victoria and the Environment Protection Authority.

In May Mr Andrews unveiled designs for the $25 million GovHub which will be completed by 2020.

Yesterday he said hiring for the new positions would begin soon and predicted Solar Victoria's staff could grow beyond 50 in the future.

"There will be some leadership positions potentially where people will relocate from Melbourne but these are all brand new jobs. They'll be advertised, there will be opportunities for locals to fill them," he said.

Hiring for the new positions is expected to begin soon and Mr Andrews said arrangements were being worked out about where to house them until the GovHub is completed.

Under solar scheme, the government estimates eligible households will save about $890 a year on their power bills by installing solar panels at no up-front cost with the government paying half the cost with the remainder to be paid off over four years with an interest-free loan.

Victorians with a household income of up to $180,000 who live in their own home valued up to $3 million are eligible for the scheme.

Eligible households which cannot get rooftop solar because of issues including roof design or shade, can receive a $1000 rebate for the installation of a solar hot water system which is expected to save them between $160-$400 a year on their power bills.

"We said we would stick with the Latrobe Valley. We've backed new industries, new jobs and greater diversity within the local economy and that's exactly what we're doing," Mr Andrews said.

"I can't make any further announcements today but I have some other exciting news in terms of new jobs in the Latrobe Valley and I look forward to making those announcements soon."

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said rolling out such a program "delivering solar panels and hot water for more than 700,000 homes across the state will create new jobs for electricians, plumbers and apprentices".

"Making Morwell the home of Solar Victoria will also bring up to 50 additional jobs to the Latrobe Valley as part of our ongoing transition and development work across the region," Ms Shing said.