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Minister to review $10bn green energy bank’s bias probe

RateSetter – a non-bank lender with imminent plans for an initial public offering in Australia – counts “green energy” loans to households for solar panels and storage batteries as the fastest-growing part of its business.

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Industry concerns surrounding the CEFC’s links with RateSetter surfaced earlier this year when the New South Wales government unveiled a pilot program called “Empowering Homes” – jointly delivered by the CEFC and RateSetter – which offered loans of up to $14,000 for households for rooftop solar and battery installations.

Under the program, the CEFC provides the finance for the loans that are administered by RateSetter. Other renewable energy finance lenders, who were blind-sided by the announcement, questioned the CEFC’s procurement processes around the program and argued there should not be only one partner for the delivery of taxpayer-funded subsidy programs.

A representative for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said 126 loans had been approved by RateSetter under the Empowering Homes program, as of July 16.

A similar program in South Australia involving RateSetter in 2018 also did not go out to tender.

RateSetter said it welcomed RSM’s review and had provided auditors “responses to questions” and relevant additional information as requested. RateSetter rejected accusations it received improper preferential treatment.

“We believe our distinguished track record for providing low-cost, regulated finance for solar panels and home batteries and the flexibility of our technology platform was the basis on which we were selected by state government partners,” the company said in a statement.

“The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is one of hundreds of investors funding loans on our renewable energy lending markets. Several ADIs, a superannuation fund, and hundreds of other investors have chosen to invest in renewable energy loans through the RateSetter platform.”

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation declined to answer questions on the matter.

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