Community solar bulk-buy scheme launched in City of Port Phillip

The City of Port Phillip in Melbourne’s inner south-east is calling for expressions of interest in a community solar bulk buy offer, which will allow local businesses and households to install rooftop solar – and potentially battery storage – at a discounted price.
The scheme offers successful applicants discounted solar systems ranging in size from 2kW to more than 5kW, and with the option to add battery storage, in the form of the 7kWh Tesla Powerwall.
It is led being coordinated by community group Port Phillip U3A (University of the Third Age), who came up with the idea after completing a energy efficiency retrofit on their council-owned building, which included the installation of a 10kW solar system.

Port Phillip Solar
The Port Phillip Solar Bulk Buy Committee -Jenny Hunter, Margaret Byron, Jan Harper, Mike Perkal, Steve Nelson and David Robinson

The whole exercise saw the building go from paying $4,700 per annum for electricity to receiving $2,300 from their energy retailer – inspiring the group to help others do the same.
For their part in the bulk-buy scheme, Port Phillip U3A receives a commission from SunEdison for every system installed.
That money is held in a trust fund, to be spent on installing free solar systems on community buildings such as kindergartens, schools, elderly citizen centres, and community housing in the City of Port Phillip.
The buildings to receive the free systems will be decided by the organising committee.
According to the City of Port Phillip’s Greenhouse Programs Officer, Brett Hedger, the scheme originally started as an idea to get just one of the local government area’s postcodes into the top 1000 solar postcodes in Australia – it’s best performing postcode was ranked at number 1,539.
But the scheme was soon expanded so that the whole of Port Phillip could be involved, Hedger said in an email. “We are aiming at helping 300 buildings to get solar and then being able to install 10-15 systems on community buildings as a byproduct of meeting our target.”
The offer, which is open until December 31 2015, comprises two packages: a Standard Package made up of JA Solar 250 Watt panels and Sungrow Inverter, price at $3,160 for a 2kW system, $4,666 for 3kW, $5,817 for 4kW, and $6,750 for 5kW.
A Premium Package offer uses REC 260 Watt panels and Fronius Primo 2.0-1 inverter, at a cost of $3,777 for 2.08kW, $5,277 for 3.12kW, $6,477 for 4.16kW, and $7,377 for 5.20kW.
US-based solar developer, SunEdison, which recently bought Australian company Energy Matters, will supply and install the bulk-buy systems, and will assess each project for suitability and to match the rooftop with the right sized package.
As noted above, SunEdison will also be offering the Tesla Powerwall battery storage unit, which can be added to the solar system when it becomes available in Australia, to maximised solar self-consumption.
And the offer is not restricted to City of Port Phillip residents and business owners. As the council website notes, a scheme like this is only viable if there are a large number of participants. With this in mind, SunEdison has extended the Port Phillip offer to any house or commercial building within 10 km of the Melbourne GPO.

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