WA trial brings solar power to public housing

By Melissa Coade

Monday September 6, 2021

Minister for mines and petroleum and energy Bill Johnston said 80 public housing properties have now had solar installed as part of the trial.
Minister for mines and petroleum and energy Bill Johnston (right) said 80 public housing properties have now had solar installed as part of the trial. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

The introduction of a smart energy for social housing trial in Western Australia has saved individuals approximately $200 in energy bills each within six months.

In a joint statement on Friday, minister for mines and petroleum and energy Bill Johnston and minister for housing John Carey said that 80 public housing properties have now had solar installed as part of the trial.

Carey said the various benefits of the smart energy for social housing plan was that tenants were learning how to reduce bills even further by shifting their energy consumption of off-peak time. 

“This is an innovative program with a great outcome for public housing tenants on low incomes who will benefit substantially from a reduction in their annual power bill and freeing-up of income for other essentials,” Carey said. 

“This is just one of many exciting housing infrastructure projects being delivered as part of the WA Recovery Plan,” he added, referring to the state government’s $66.3 million renewable energy technologies package for social housing.

The first group of solar panels installed as part of the trial were affixed in December 2020. According to the government, participants of the first 10 selected properties, located in Clarkson, Gosnells, Balga, Ellenbrook, Rockingham and Girrawheen, have reported savings between $30 and $200 since the pilot commenced. 

The program, which will see 500 properties installed with solar, is being rolled out over four years by Synergy, on behalf of Energy Policy WA, across the South West Interconnected System – Western Australia’s main electricity grid.

Energy minister Bill Johnston said that the Department of Communities worked with regional offices to identify suitable properties with three or more bedrooms for the pilot; and another 80 houses have now had systems installed. The next phase of the trial will see solar installed for social housing dwellings that have one or two bedrooms, and apartments. 

“Synergy is also working with tenants to increase their savings by encouraging the use of major appliances, such as using the washing machine or dishwasher, during daylight hours,” Johnston said.

“The government is committed to giving Western Australians greater control of their energy use to help reduce their power bills.”

Eligible public housing tenants will have a Synergy-owned and maintained rooftop solar system installed on their rental property and access to Synergy’s Future Communities Plan, which offers a discounted rate for electricity consumed during off-peak times (9am to 3pm).

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