Locked out of cheap power: More than a third of NSW residents can’t get solar
More than 2.6 million people across New South Wales can’t access cheap and clean solar energy to offset skyrocketing power bills, a new analysis reveals.
The analysis of Census data shows there are nine council areas within greater Sydney area where more than half of residents are locked out of solar. In North Sydney, for example, three quarters of all residents (74 per cent) can’t access solar because they are renters or live in apartment buildings. Red tape blocks people living in apartments from installing their own panels, and there are no incentives for landlords to add solar to investment properties. Outside of the metropolitan region, council areas in rural NSW have lock out figures ranging from 13 to 46 per cent.
Australian Photovoltaic Institute chairwoman Renate Egan said it’s terrible that a third of people living in New South Wales were unable to take control of their power bills by getting solar.
“We live in the sunniest country in the world, and the cost of installing solar is falling through the floor making it one of the cheapest ways to power our homes,” Dr Egan said.
“Many Australians have taken advantage of this over the years, with 1.67 million households now with solar, but many more Australians who would like to do the same simply can’t.”
Over the past decade electricity prices have risen by 60 to 90 per cent above inflation. Over the same period, the cost of installing a 3KW solar system has dropped by 90 per cent.
Aussie start-up company SunTenants believes it has the answer for how millions of renters could access solar power. Founder Bjorn Sturmberg said the company’s win-win approach meant both renters and landlords benefited from solar.
“SunTenants pays landlords for every solar panel they install and charges tenants a discounted rate for the solar power they use. This generates attractive returns for landlords while saving tenants hundreds of dollars a year on their power bills,” Dr Sturmberg said.
“With electricity prices skyrocketing, SunTenants creates a desperately needed win-win for landlords and tenants.”
Community Power Agency founding director Nicky Ison said community groups around Australia were coming up with novel ways of helping people of all incomes and circumstances access the many benefits of renewable energy and storage. Solar gardens – in which an individual buys a solar panel and puts it in a local ‘plot’ with others from which the electricity generated is credited onto their power bill – is just one example.
“People are sick and tired of being at the mercy of the big power corporations. They want to generate their own, clean power because that’s the surest way of avoiding bill shock and knowing what to expect when you open your power bill at the end of the month.”
MEDIA INQUIRIES: Renters wanting solar as well as community groups and start-ups helping those locked out of solar are available for interview. For a full list of local government areas and statistics please contact Zoe Edwards: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top 15 NSW local government areas with residents potentially locked out of solar:
|Local Government Area
|Population locked out of solar
|Number of residents locked out of solar
* this is number of people renting, or who live in apartments, flats, caravans, houseboats and “improvised living” such as tents. A full break down of NSW is available upon request.