26 Dec 2019

The Communities Calling for Solar Panel Gardens to Beat Rising Power Prices

26 Dec 2019  by SBSNews   
Solar energy can be a cheaper alternative when it comes to electricity bills and it's better for the environment, but many Australians who live in apartments say they’re locked out of the growing industry.

Community Power Agency spokesperson Kristy Walters. Source: SBS News

As temperatures soar over the summer, many Australians are trying to keep cool, but they're also mindful of the cost of their electricity bills.

Reverend Alimoni Taumoepeau, 56, lives and works in Western Sydney.

The church pays his accommodation in a house where he lives with his wife and son, but he foots his family's electricity bill.

“A number of times in the year when my electricity bill comes, I have to weigh it up, would I pay the electricity or would I pay the car insurance?” Mr Taumoepeau told SBS News.

Reverend Taumoepeau said he is always looking for ways to keep costs down.

“We keep the air conditioning off in summer and [the heater] even in winter when it's so cold. The reason is we can't afford it.”

Call for solar gardens

Solar energy can be a cheaper alternative to traditional power, but for people living in apartments or renting, it isn't always an option, with many unable to install solar panels themselves.

The Community Power Agency, a coalition of 20 community groups, started a ‘Solar for All’ campaign in 2019 calling for solar garden trials in Australia.

A solar garden is a centralised hub of panels that people can purchase a small share in. The electricity generated by the panels is then credited onto the consumers' bills.

The Community Power Agency wants to see solar gardens across the country.

“At the moment, to get into a solar garden we would expect the energy savings to be around 20 per cent of your electricity bill,” Community Power Agency spokesperson Kristy Walters told SBS News.

The concept has already taken off overseas, particularly in the United States, and would see solar panels installed in places such as paddocks on the outskirts of town, or on warehouse roofs.

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