Solar panel trial for public housing properties

Solar panel installers

​Four hundred public housing tenants are expecting to enjoy energy cost savings of up to $350 per year thanks to the Department of Housing’s first solar panel installation program.

Under the $1 million pilot program, 1Kw solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are being installed on the roofs of selected Department properties whose energy consumption will be analysed by the Public Utilities Office.

“The Public Utilities Office approached the Department and asked to manage the project,” Steve Parry, General Manager Service Delivery, said.

“Agreeing to do so was an easy decision as there are tangible benefits for tenants and for the Department.”

Mr Parry said tenants taking part in the trial will benefit almost as soon as the panels go on their roof.

“The Public Utilities Office was keen for us to test whether PV panels are an effective way of assisting clients,” he said.

“Power prices have risen noticeably over the last three years, while panel prices have reduced dramatically, so the timing is right.”

The properties - which were randomly selected, but are representative of metropolitan public housing - have three or more bedrooms and tenants who are generally bigger users of electricity.

Solargain PV Pty Ltd was named as the successful applicant to deliver the rollout which commenced in late March. 

About 60 of the properties are home to people with disabilities who often require specialised equipment and use more power during daylight hours.

Tenants involved in the scheme are expected to save between $250 and $350 per year on their electricity bills, while excess electricity will be fed back into the WA grid. The actual amount is dependent upon the properties’ roof aspect to the sun and whether the tenants are at home consuming power during the day.

“All tenants involved in the program will sign up to the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme, but as the systems are relatively small it’s unlikely large quantities of excess power will be exported back into the grid,” Mr Parry said.

“We expect the reduced energy costs will be welcomed by tenants on low to moderate incomes. The success of the program will determine whether it is expanded in metropolitan and regional areas.”

Mr Parry said that the pilot has been an excellent ‘silo breaking’ multi-team project.

“It’s been a fantastic example of the Department working closely with other agencies in delivering good essential outcomes to tenants,” he said.

“Our work with the Public Utilities Office has been based on trust and a joint commitment to get the job done.”

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