'Bulk-buy’ community solar plan launches 2nd round offer in Victoria

A community solar initiative that gives households in the Central Victorian shire of Mount Alexander access to quality approved rooftop solar at a bulk-buy price has launched a second-round offer, after a highly successful first round led to the installation of 225 solar systems.
MASH 2 launch pic - sized for news post
Stage two of the Mount Alexander Solar Homes project (MASH2), organised by not-for-profit group the Hub Foundation, was launched on Tuesday by Mayor Christine Henderson, in the hope of attracting another 150 Shire households to the lower-cost, pre-approved solar PV systems.
As in the first round, MASH is offering extra incentive to participants by promising to install two free solar systems on a community organisation after 100 MASH 2 systems have gone on rooftops.
The group says the initiative will again maintain its emphasis on value for money, but will this year offer both standard and a premium PV systems; the latter having a slightly higher generation output “and more bells and whistles”, including an advanced inverter that will allow a major appliance in the house to turn on automatically during the day when solar output reaches a certain level.
The table below shows the prices (fully installed) for MASH2 PV systems, taken from the project website:
Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 12.03.38 pm
They don’t include options for energy storage yet, but MASH project officer Jo Kaptein says both systems will be compatible with battery storage when it becomes available at competitive prices “in the next one to four years.”
“A great deal was learned in MASH 1 and these lessons have been incorporated into the offer for MASH 2,” Kaptein said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We’ve maintained the emphasis on value for money so that our offer is for high quality components at the best possible prices. Once again we went out to tender and chose the best all-round deal.
“The first stage which took place last year was extremely successful: 225 homes had over 3,000 panels installed on their roofs. Today, almost one in four of the homes in the Shire have solar on their roofs, compared with only one in ten in Victoria overall.”
As for the project’s financial sustainability, according to Neil Barrett, chair of the Hub Foundation, MASH 1 “didn’t claw back any money at all” due to some philanthropic seed funding.
“From now on, however, we are putting ourselves on a more sustainable footing by earning an average of $200 from each installation. As a result, MASH 2 should bring in enough to cover our costs and leave a bit for next time,” Barrett wrote in an article published on RE.
The supplier to the project this year is Melbourne-based, but Kaptein says the team is working as much as possible with local installers, graphic artists, administrators and web developers.
MASH2 is being supported by four major partners, Mount Alexander Shire Council, Midland Express, Cantwell Property Castlemaine and the accountant, K.W. Grimes & Associates.
This article was first published at RenewEconomy.

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