Sutherland Shire Environment Centre sub-group launches new round of solar bulk-buy

A third round of a bulk-buy rooftop solar system scheme for Sutherland Shire homes has been launched following initial success.

Organisers said 72 homes were fitted with solar in the first two rounds of Sunny Shire, a not-for-profit scheme run by volunteers in a sub-group of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre.

The scheme was established in June, 2017, with the aim of answering residents’ questions, simplifying the purchase process and cutting costs by buying in bulk.

Online registrations are open for Bulk Buy 3, with prices revised for 2018.

Andrew Cropp, of Dolans Bay, who purchased a 6.5kW system through the scheme, said his family’s electricity bills had dropped from more than $450 a  quarter to $50 a quarter.

“Part of that is our reduced electricity, and we also get paid for the excess we feed back into the grid,” he said.

Mr Cropp said the solar system had made them more conscious of their energy use.

“[For instance] we will put the dishwasher on in the daytime when we know the sun is out,” he said.

“I have got a monitoring system, so it tells me every minute of the day what I am using and when I am selling back to the grid. It’s a bit addictive.”

Mr Cropp said he paid just under $10,000 for his system and, based on present savings, it would pay for itself in about five and a half years.

Mr Cropp said the replacement of solar panels in the future would be comparatively cheap as the infrastructure was in place.

Sunny Shire says solar panels generally have a 25-year life span, with production dropping 0.5 per cent a year

The largest solar system fitted on a house in the bulk-buy scheme is 17kW, with 54 panels, which is larger than many on commercial buildings.

Stephen Brooke, of Como, who chose the extra-large system said, “I don’t get an electricity bill anymore. I get an electricity statement”.

Another participant, Mark Szulmayer, of Maianbar, said buying solar could  be complicated.

“There are many different companies, panels and inverters, so it takes a lot of research to know what is the best option,” he said.

“Sunny Shire make it easy as they have done the research and have size and price options.

“Our quote, then installation, was all done very professionally, and we are very happy with our great system.”

Sunny Shire co-founder Jonathan Prendergast said the first two rounds had resulted in a total of 460kW and about $1 million investment in local energy generation.

“The average size has been 7kW (24 panels), costing about $9000,” he said.

“This compares with an average size of 1-3kW (10 panels) five years ago


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