The West Australian government has paid attention to the massive public and governmental criticism of plans to cut the state’s solar feed-in tariff, the Premier has decided not to go ahead with changes he now calls the “wrong decision.”

There were only a few days between the plan’s announcement and the rapid backpedal. The WA government was at one point threatened with legal action over its move to half the amount it pays for people to contribute energy back into the grid from their rooftop solar panels.

Premier Colin Barnett said the move was expected to save $50 million over four years, and that he thought the rebate was far too generous. Barnett now accepts cutting it would disadvantage householders who have installed rooftop solar panels and signed 10 year contracts.

The plan was decried almost as soon as it was announced. Criticism came from inside parliament too, including from WA MP Rob Johnson, who said: “I think it is atrocious that any government will renege on an agreement that it has with the people... we cannot retain our integrity as a government if we renege on that particular agreement... I will not be a party to that and, for the first time in 20 years, if I have to cross the floor and vote against the government then I will do so.”

Sustainable Energy Association's Kirsten Rose said the group was delighted: “We were really quick to condemn the decision as something that was a real betrayal of public trust.”

The Solar Citizens campaign group's Geoff Evans said it would be a warning to all state governments to “take notice of the big reaction that happened in Western Australia and think twice if they're also thinking about undermining the rights of solar owners or weakening the drift or the transition towards the clean energy of the future.”