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What is happening with Solar Savers Adelaide?
In April 2016, Council sought registrations of interest and feedback from residents and landlords for Solar Savers Adelaide. The program was endorsed by Council in October 2016.
58 properties met the eligibility criteria and of these, 40 properties signed Property Owner Agreements.
There are no current plans to undertake a second stage of Solar Savers Adelaide.
If you are interested in support for renewable energy see The City of Adelaide's Sustainability Incentive Scheme.
On 25 July Council declared the separate rates for each property that the 40 properties have signed Property Owner Agreements to take part in Stage 1 of Solar Savers Adelaide.
The solar PV systems were installed by Cool or Cosy in late 2017/ early 2018.
The quarterly Solar Savers separate rates charge came into effect for property-owners post-installation and applies for a 10-year period as part of the Property Owner Agreement signed between the household, Council and Cool or Cosy. The panels will belong to the property, and if the property owner moves any remaining repayments will remain with the property.
Council will continue work on the development of future stages and a broader community solar bulk-buy.
What is the objective of the Solar Savers Adelaide Program?
South Australia is experiencing an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves. As energy prices continue to rise, vulnerable and low-income members of the community are often forced to consider whether they are able to afford the energy costs associated with air conditioning. An increase in heat waves can pose significant health and financial impacts for households that are trying to maintain healthy indoor temperatures.
There are several barriers to the installation of solar PV systems, including access to upfront capital to purchase and install the PV systems; lack of clarity and trust in the solar market; as well as a split incentive between landlords and tenants. The Solar Savers Adelaide Program was designed in an attempt to overcome some of these barriers and to encourage the increased uptake of solar PV in residences within Council.
In particular, the objectives of the Solar Savers Adelaide Program were to:
What were the steps in the Solar Savers Adelaide Program?
Has this been done anywhere else?
Darebin City Council has run two phases on their Solar Savers Scheme, with a third planned for 2019.
Solar Savers Victoria is a partnership between not-for-profit greenhouse alliances and local councils, funded by the Victorian Government. Solar Savers is being progressively rolled out.
What are the benefits of installing solar if I am a landlord?
How was the solar PV energy system supplier and installer selected?
Council undertook a competitive tender process and selected South Australian Company Homeworks Co Pty Ltd (trading as Cool or Cosy) as the solar PV energy system supplier and installer for Solar Savers Adelaide. Clean Energy Council approved photovoltaic modules and inverters were considered, with a minimum product warranty of 10 years for the panels, inverter, mounting and installation. The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia, and they administer a number of schemes to maximise product and service standards in the solar PV industry. Installers were also required to provide proof of Clean Energy Council accreditation; relevant building and electrical contractor licenses; as well as attendance at roof safety training courses. Police checks were also required as part of the tender; and the installers are required to comply with all relevant local, state and Commonwealth Government statutory and regulatory requirements.
Why was Cool or Cosy selected?
Cool or Cosy met all of Council’s requirements for a trusted and quality solar PV energy system supplier and installer. Cool or Cosy is a family-owned South Australian Company that is based in Torrensville, Adelaide. Cool or Cosy was established in 1984 and is a leading supplier of solar PV systems in South Australia. They are solar retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers and are a RAA member partner. The Cool or Cosy installation crews are fully licensed and accredited by the Clean Energy Council. For further information on Cool or Cosy, please visit their website (External link).
Cool or Cosy owns Tindo Solar, a wholly Australian owned and operated company founded in 2011 that designs and manufactures technologically advanced solar panels for Australian conditions. Tindo solar panels are manufactured in South Australia, which lowers the carbon footprint of the product and creates local economic opportunities. Tindo solar PV panels have been selected as the solar panels to be installed in the Solar Savers Adelaide program.
Where can I get more information about solar PV systems and my own energy use?
The following websites have some useful information:
What is a separate rate?
Solar Savers Adelaide has been designed to use a separate rate that is charged to the land, and is paid off by participating property owners in quarterly instalments over a 10 year period. The separate rate charge avoids households paying an up-front cost for solar; and allows Council to recover the cost for the supply and installation over a longer time frame. The principle of the Program is that households are forecasted to save more on electricity bills than they will pay for the solar panels each year over the 10 year period.
The separate rate is permitted through Section 154 of the South Australian Local Government Act 1999. As with other rates declared by Council, once a separate rate has been declared under the Local Government Act, it becomes a statutory charge against the land.
The separate rate charge was only applied to properties that have:
Registered interest to take part in the Program and met the Program eligibility criteria; and
Signed an agreement with the Council that enables the Council to facilitate the supply and installation of an approved solar photovoltaic system by a contractor approved by the Council.
The separate rate will remain with the land for the duration of the 10 year period, regardless of whether the system remains at the property, or if the property is sold, as the rate is levied to facilitate the supply and installation at the property.
How are the quarterly repayments calculated?
A property-specific quotation provided the household with the exact cost as well as the quarterly instalments to be paid through the separate rate. Extra costs associated with installations will increase the standard costs (i.e. multi-storey access, switchboard upgrades).
Council provided a $1,000 upfront rebate on the total cost of the solar PV energy system as part of the City of Adelaide's Sustainability Incentive Scheme. Council also bore the administrative and program costs, as well as the costs of the Solar Analytics energy monitoring system.
An interest rate of 3.55% was applied to the total cost of the system in order to cover Council’s costs of financing the system over 10 years.
Is there an option to pay back the separate rate earlier?
Who owns the solar panels while they are being paid off?
The separate rate is applied to the land and the property owner pays quarterly instalments over a 10-year period. If the owner decides to sell the property, any remaining repayments are taken on by the next owner.
What happens if I want to sell my property?
How will the separate rate be billed?
The Separate Rate is included in the owner's General Rates Notice. Notices are issued quarterly with payment due on the same date as your General Rates.Council offers several payment methods - Details are included on the reverse of your Rates Notice. Payment methods include: online via Council’s Website, Direct Deposit, BPay, Post billpay, via Phone, Cheque; or over the Counter at Council’s Customer Centre at 25 Pirie Street or at an Australia Post outlet.
What if I miss a repayment or can’t make my repayments?
If you are having difficulty making payment we encourage you to contact the Customer Centre to discuss payment options as soon as possible before the due date.
If Rates fall into arrears and other arrangements have not been made, fines and interest may apply. Details are included on the reverse of your Rates Notice.
How was eligibility for Stage 1 of Solar Savers Adelaide defined?
To be eligible for Stage 1 of Solar Savers Adelaide, participants would need to have registered interest in April/May 2016 and met our eligibility criteria as outlined in the Eligibility Information Pack . As part of proving eligibility, supporting documents were required to ensure a transparent and robust selection process. The eligibility process has closed and Stage 1 participants have been selected.
How were the criteria to determine eligibility developed?
Owner-occupiers were required to provide evidence that they qualify as low income. We used existing income-tested measures, such Commonwealth Concession/Pension cards; or Commonwealth Centrelink payments as a means to provide this proof. Should an owner-occupier not hold any Commonwealth Concession/Pension cards, or receive Commonwealth Centrelink payments, they were also able to prove their low income status by demonstrating that:
The proof required to meet these criteria, including the specific Commonwealth cards or Centrelink payments eligible is explained in the Eligibility Information Pack.
Rental properties were required to be private residential rental properties (not serviced apartments), and the property owner needed to provide consent to participate in Solar Savers Adelaide. Rental agreements were requested as proof that the property is currently rented.
Were family rental properties eligible in Stage 1?
Properties that are rented to direct family members are not included in Stage 1 of Solar Savers Adelaide, as this is not consistent with the intent of the program. The intent of Solar Savers is to make it easier and more attractive for landlords to install solar systems on rental properties where they will not receive the benefits of the system. Properties that are rented to extended family members were assessed on a case by case basis.
Information included an outline of the family relationship between landlord and tenant; evidence of a current rental agreement (already provided); evidence of rental payments where the rent is in-line with current market rates.
Were properties that belong to a Body Corporate included in Stage 1?
No. Properties that are part of a Body Corporate (i.e. Strata Corporations under the Strata Titles Act 1988, Community Corporations under the Community Titles Act 1996 or Housing Cooperatives under the South Australian Co-operative and Community Housing Act 1991) were not progressed through Stage 1 of Solar Savers Adelaide. This is due to the potential complexity of the property and energy arrangements.
Were Housing Trust properties eligible?
Housing Trust properties are not eligible the under Solar Savers Adelaide Program. A separate solar scheme is being implemented with eligible Housing Trust properties by Renewal SA. For further information, please contact Housing SA on 131 299.
What is a serviced apartment?
A serviced apartment is a non-residential furnished apartment available for both short-term and long-term stays. These are often inclusive of utility bills. Serviced apartments, as well as holiday rentals and Air B&B properties, will not be included in Solar Savers Adelaide.
Did the program include expansion or replacement of a solar system?
This was not eligible under the Solar Savers Adelaide Program. Rebates of up to $1,000 are available under the City of Adelaide's Sustainability Incentive Scheme for adding various hot water systems (including solar) to a property.
Who will have access to the eligibility information I provide?
Are businesses eligible for Solar Savers Adelaide?
No – business can access support for solar PV installation from City of Adelaide’s Sustainability Incentives Scheme.
If my business is attached to a house, will they both receive the solar generated electricity?
Can I just buy solar panels outright?
Properties in the City of Adelaide local government areas can to access the City of Adelaide's Sustainability Incentives Scheme. This Scheme provides rebates for property owners and tenants to encourage energy reduction, including a rebate for households installing solar panels. For landlords and concession-card holders we provide a rebate of up to half of the total cost (up to $1000 for systems under 10 KW) (or 20% of the total cost if without concession).
How were heritage buildings treated?
Suitability of properties for solar panel installation was determined on a case-by-case basis. Council waives development fees for installing solar panels.
When were the public meetings held?
Two public meetings were held in May 2017 to outline the Solar Savers Adelaide Program and invite feedback on the declaration of the separate rate. This was an opportunity to engage with Council and Cool or Cosy, in order to ask any questions. The details of the public meetings held are:
What happened at the pre-installation site visit?
In April and May 2017, Cool or Cosy undertook pre-installation site visits to assess the suitability of eligible properties for a solar PV energy system and to provide a property-specific quotation. Cool or Cosy also asked some questions about the household energy consumption and requested to see a copy of an electricity bill.
What information was provided after the pre-installation site visit?
A quotation pack was provided within 2 weeks of the pre-installation site visit. The quotation pack was reviewed by Council prior to Cool or Cosy sending it to the property owner; and outlined:
The quotation was non-binding. Once a property owner decided that they would like to go ahead, a Property Owner Agreement was signed between the property owner, Cool or Cosy and Council.
What solar PV energy system components were installed?
Tindo Solar Karra 265 PV module (made in South Australia)
Choice of two different inverter options:
Clenergy Australia PV-ez Rack mounting systems
What is Solar Analytics?
Solar Analytics is an energy monitoring system that provides real time information on:
Household electricity consumption,
Your solar energy system's performance,
Net electricity bought and sold
How much energy your system should be generating vs actual energy generated on any given day
Alerts and faults diagnostics
Click here for more information about Solar Analytics.
What is the benefit of an energy monitoring system?
Energy monitoring systems allow you to measure how you use energy in your home and to identify ways in which you could use energy more efficiently. This may help you to reduce your energy bills and your carbon footprint.
What is the difference between a micro and string inverter/s?
Inverters convert Direct Current (DC) generated by solar panels to Alternating Current (AC) that can be used throughout your home. String inverters operate with a number of panels all connected together that run through one inverter for that panel array. Micro inverters on the other hand have one inverter per panel.
Micro-inverters can be beneficial in installations where shading may be an issue or where there are multiple aspects and pitches for the panels to be installed, as the performance of each panel is not affected by other panels. The Solar Savers Adelaide Program offered both a string-inverter and micro-inverter option as part of the quotation.
Is Battery storage included in Stage 1 of the Program?
No, battery storage systems will not be included in Stage 1 of the Solar Savers Adelaide Program. Cool or Cosy will be able to explain how battery storage systems can be added in the future if you wish to procure one separately.
If you are interested in battery storage, instead of Solar Savers Adelaide, you might be better taking advantage of the City of Adelaide Sustainability Incentive Scheme, where the Council provides a rebate of 50% of the total battery installation cost up to $5,000.
Will the inverters be battery-ready?
Please note that this question is subject to interpretation, and each company is likely to have its own interpretation based on the functionality of the inverter model.
Inverters installed as part of the solar PV energy system convert direct current (DC) from the solar panels to alternating current (AC), which is used in a home. In a battery storage system that stores grid and/or solar power, the inverter needs to be able to route DC power into the battery for charging, and to convert AC power to DC power. Most solar inverters are not built to do this, however they can be AC coupled with a battery control system later on, which allows for this functionality. A hybrid inverter is an inverter that does all this in one go. If you intend to install a battery storage system straight away, a more expensive hybrid inverter may make sense.
However, if you are only considering installing a battery storage system in the future, it may make sense to wait until you are ready to purchase a battery, as technology and future compatibility may change over the years. You may also need to consider increasing the number of solar PV panels in your solar PV energy system, as the leftover electricity generation from a 2kW system is not likely to warrant the cost of a battery system. The two different inverter options (and your roof configuration) then become important.
If you have a string inverter, which is suited to match a certain capacity (i.e. 2.5kW maximum), and you increase the number of solar panels, you may need to upgrade your inverter when you buy a battery system.
If you have micro-inverters, which are individual inverters per panel, then each time you buy a new panel you are increasing the capacity of the overall inverters.
An energy monitoring system (such as Solar Analytics) will help you to determine battery and storage requirements in the future. For any questions about battery ready systems and to understand the implications for your property, please speak to Cool or Cosy.
Where can I get more information on feed-in tariffs?
As of 1 January 2017, Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) has not set a minimum retailer feed in tariff. Retailers can now determine what they will pay for electricity fed back to the grid and it will vary between retailers and between energy plans.
Websites such as www.energymadeeasy.gov.au allow you to compare energy retailer plans for customers with solar PV systems; we recommend that you research several retailers to find the best plan to suit you.
For more information on feed in tariffs please visit http://www.escosa.sa.gov.au/consumers/energy/solar-feed-in-tariff-scheme(External link).
For rental properties - will landlords be able to increase rent to recoup the costs of the solar panels?
There are certain protections available to tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 that affect whether statutory charges, such as Council rates, can be passed on to tenants. Decisions about the cost of rent payable by a tenant are ultimately matters between the landlord and tenant that must be dealt with in accordance with the terms of individual leases and that Act.