A Queensland government-funded scheme to use rooftop solar to cut the electricity costs of low income regional households – as well its half a million rental households – has begun being rolled out in the state’s south-east, with plans to extend the trial throughout the state.
The public housing solar scheme, announced in March, kicked off in the suburbs of Logan late last week, in the first phase of installations of up to 6MW of solar PV on up to 4000 rooftops across Queensland.
State energy minister Mark Bailey said the aim of the trial was to investigate innovative ways to enable public housing tenants in detached government-owned houses to access the benefits of rooftop solar.
In Woodridge, alone, nearly 2000 eligible public housing tenants managed through Logan City’s Woodridge Housing Service Centre would be eligible for the scheme.
Meanwhile, the Palaszczuk government is calling for expressions of interest from solar PV suppliers to support the trial in Rockhampton and Cairns.
“Queensland is known as the Sunshine State for good reason, and there are already many people in Rockhampton who own their home who enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar,” said the member for Keppel, Brittany Lauga, in comments on Monday.
“This EOI is another step toward giving eligible tenants in government owned housing in Rockhampton the opportunity to also receive cheaper power from solar and contribute to growing the renewables industry in Queensland.
“We’re seeking expressions of interest from partners who can supply, install and maintain solar PV systems for a preferred contractor panel, with successful applicants invited to tender later this year.”
Queensland’s minister for housing, Mick de Brenni, said the trial aims to reduce cost barriers to solar and deliver cheaper electricity to those who need it most.
“This trial marks a significant change in the way we deliver renewable energy across Queensland,” de Brenni said on Monday.
“Up until now, the uptake of rooftop solar has been limited in the rental market in Queensland, which includes half a million properties.
“Through this trial, government can also develop a workable model for the private rental sector, creating opportunities for every Queenslander to enjoy cheaper electricity while helping to grow the state’s renewable energy sector.”
Queensland is not the only state or local government to trial and fund schemes like this. The City of Adelaide launched its “Solar Savers” initiative in April 2016, in an effort to remove the usual upfront costs of installing rooftop solar on rented and low-income households, and provide tenants with a long-term payment plan.
The ACT launched a $2 million low-income solar scheme in July 2016, open to eligible households, wishing to install rooftop PV but unable to afford the upfront investment. And in NSW, a number of NGO-led and CEFC-backed schemes have sought to build new, highly energy efficient public housing with rooftop solar included.
The EOI for the Queensland trial closes on Monday 29 May – further details can be found here.