The fate of South Australia’s deal with Elon Musk’s Tesla to supply free household batteries to 50,000 homeowners remains uncertain, following the electoral defeat of SA Labor.
Former premier Jay Weatherill announced the policy in February with much fanfare, declaring it would create the world’s “largest virtual power plant”.
Under the plan, more than 1,000 housing trust homes were to receive the scheme over the following year, with another 49,000 properties to get solar panels and Tesla batteries over the next four years.
But it is unclear how much of the project — which was announced about a fortnight before the government entered caretaker mode — was formally entered into.
At the time of the announcement, on February 4, Mr Weatherill said a deal had just been signed in the United States.
When asked a day later whether he would honour Labor’s plan, the then Liberal leader, now Premier, Steven Marshall said “we’re not against these type of proposals”.
“My understanding is that Labor have signed up their plan, so there’s going to be 1,000 of these new systems installed in housing trust homes between now and July next year,” Mr Marshall said on February 5.
“We don’t have any plans to stop what they have signed up to but we certainly don’t have any plans whatsoever to change one single component of our energy solution.”
The Tesla plan shares similarities with a Liberal policy to create a $100 million household fund to provide means-tested grants allowing battery storage units in 40,000 homes.
But there are differences between the schemes, including the number of properties earmarked to benefit, and the fact that half the recipients under Labor would be housing trust tenants.
Labor would have funded the rollout of the Tesla plan with a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the Renewable Technology Fund.
Unlike Labor, the Liberals have not publicly nominated a private partner, such as Tesla, to help implement their scheme.
On Monday, Mr Marshall and deputy Vickie Chapman would not be drawn on how much of Labor’s policy would be adopted.
When asked by ABC RN Breakfast’s Fran Kelly about the plan to equip housing trust properties with Tesla batteries, Mr Marshall today replied: “That’s not part of our agenda. Our agenda is 40,000 homes.”
But when queried about the Tesla plan after being sworn-in as premier, he added: “We don’t know where that is [at] but any contracts the [previous] government’s entered into — we’ll be honouring them, there’s no doubt about that.
“Any other items that they flagged during the election, we’re happy to look at it but we’ve got our own energy policy agenda and we’ll be rolling that out as a priority.”
Ms Chapman was non-committal when asked about the Tesla deal on ABC Radio Adelaide.
“There’s been no cabinet decisions made and no announcements by the leader or any executive decision on those sorts of policies,” she said.
“We’ve set a fairly comprehensive plan in relation to energy.”
That plan involves a new interconnector with New South Wales and a rejection of Labor’s Renewable Energy Target of 75 per cent.