Riddells Creek Sustainability Newsletter

25 February 2008

Solar Meeting and Beyond Building

Filed under: Solar Panel Project — Russell @ 5:04 am

 Solar Meeting Pano


Thank you

Thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in the project and thanks to the many people who have sent such positive emails before and since the meeting on Wednesday. The project has now taken over our lives. We’ve had great conversations with people who feel empowered to do something positive about greenhouse gas emissions coming from their homes. Solar panel installation and energy efficiency go hand in hand

Who are we?

The three people (and environment groups) that are working in a voluntary capacity to try and bring this project to fruition are:

  • Russell Best (on behalf of Riddells Creek Landcare; www.riddellscreeklandcare.org.au)
  • Lyn Hovey (on behalf of Greening of Riddell), and
  • Julie Macdonald (on behalf of Clarkefield and District Farm/Landcare)

Julie will be our official Neighbourhood Coordinator with Beyond Building if we get this scheme up and running.

Current situation

At the time of writing this email, 175 people have expressed interest in the project. 150-200 people attended the community meeting last Wednesday. Beyond Building (BB) has also been overwhelmed with responses from interested neighbourhoods. BB has established 31 groups already (50 people in each group). Another 170 groups across Australia are waiting to sign up. With so many groups interested, BB is spending virtually all its time getting finance and implementing those 31 projects. They told us on Wednesday “we are unable to open any new neighbourhoods until the finance is in place”. This effectively means that the $499 deal is no longer an option. We will now proceed on the basis that it is $895. However, low income households should still keep in contact with us, as we are investigating other means of raising the difference in price and government green loans are about to come on to the market.

Other costs discussed at the meeting include:

  1. Approximately $120 for an electrical inspection once the panels are fitted.

  2. Most people will require a new electricity meter to be fitted. Most electricity meters are only capable of taking electricity from the grid. The grid-connected solar system requires a meter that is also capable of putting the electricity from your solar panels back into the grid. It is called a bi-directional, or input/output meter. The cost of the new meter depends on your electricity provider but can be anything from $117 to $469.

  3. Most homes will have no other costs. However, according to BB’s website, about 20-30% of houses require some extra work which will add to the cost. Some examples may be houses with poor wiring, double-storey houses, houses with a high or unusual pitched roof, and houses that require greater than usual distance between the panels and the inverter. These things will be picked up at pre-inspection stage. If the cost increases too much, you can withdraw and get your money back.

  4. There are many ‘extras’ that some people may want to take advantage of. These include an inverter warranty for longer than 3 years and upgrading to bigger systems.

  5. Once we are accepted to become a Solar Neighbourhood (mid-March at the earliest) we will advise our Riddells Creek Solar Neighbourhood participants to register with Beyond Building. Preference will be given to assisted or sponsored groups. Some councils and community banks are sponsoring groups, and we will be following this up. Another way to get the finance upfront is if we were to get 50 people who were willing to put up the $8000 up front and then get it back once the system is installed via the rebate. We have no idea how many people could go this far but this is a way to guarantee we go ahead so we will follow this up just to see how many people would consider this.

Our feeling is that it will end up being an $895+ deal. This is still an amazing deal. One way to think of the extra $400 is an extra two years for it to pay for itself (or 1 year if prices double, or 0.5 a year if the refund rate increases as well). It is still a $14,000 system you’d be getting for a great price.

Reasons why you might want to contemplate spending $895+:

  • You will feel good that you are doing something positive about climate change.
  • In a few years time it will actually make you money.
  • It may increase the value of your house by up to $14,000.
  • Your taxes are being spent on this rebate.
  • 1/4-1/3 of your mains electricity will be gone. With 50 people that’s about 15 households of mains energy usage gone. That’s up to 2% of Riddells Creek’s total mains electricity gone.
  • Be a part of a really worthwhile community action – ie. your input is enabling 49 other people to do it too


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