Solar power for battlers

Council offers $19 weekly payment scheme

Greg Mayfield

  GREAT IDEA: Gordon and Lorraine Williams were excited at the prospect of installing a solar system on their modest home in Esmond Road. They are with council's James Holyman, right.

 GREAT IDEA: Gordon and Lorraine Williams were excited at the prospect of installing a solar system on their modest home in Esmond Road. They are with council's James Holyman, right.

In a bid to ease power costs for “battlers” in the community, Port Pirie Regional Council has unveiled a scheme offering $19-a-week solar systems.

The scheme won immediate praise from Esmond Road residents Gordon and Lorraine Williams who were visited by council’s architect of the scheme and corporate and community director James Holyman.

The pensioner couple expect to save hundreds of dollars a year off power bills as a result of joining up to the program for which expressions of interest are being sought.

“If there is appropriate interest, the council will run a tender process to seek the best value-for-money option for residents,” Mr Holyman said.

“The contract for installation and payment would be established between the household and the successful tenderer.

“Based on our research and advice, a 5kW system is recommended as this is the minimum size to be ‘battery ready’.

“This needs about 32 square metres of roof space for the solar panels. This would reduce carbon emissions by 4.9 tonnes yearly.

“The benefit of having a battery is to further reduce the reliance on grid power and provide for when there are power blackouts.

“If the cost for the solar system per fortnight was about $40, then the yearly cost to the household would be $1040 with yearly savings for a typical household of about $800.

“The system will be offered as a four-year payment plan with the intention of a weekly payment below $19.” 

Mr Williams, 73, a retired assistant train manager, and Mrs Williams, 69, at first thought the scheme was “too good to be true”.

They had been considering a solar system, but the initial financial outlay was too great. Now the cost is within budget.

“This has got to be a first. Port Pirie is in number-one spot again,” Mr Williams said.

“It really sounds great. Until you are a pensioner, you don’t realise the struggle you can get into. It is a great thing for the pensioner.”

Mr Holyman said his dream was for the town to be “carbon-neutral” and this proposed venture was a step toward achieving that.

He said the council had listened the community about living costs.

“Food and electricity costs are rising. The scheme will represent a small contribution, but it is something we believed we could do,” he said.

“The typical two-person household should save about $800 yearly. That depends on power usage. We also want to increase awareness about power usage."

Mrs Williams said the couple’s power bills were expected to fall from about $300 to $150.

Emma Hackett