MEDIA RELEASE FEB 14, 2013: Terrie Holz from the NSW country town of Tamworth today married a solar panel as a protest to the shocking treatment she received from her electricity company, Origin Energy. Labelled as Australia’s most ‘cheated on’ electricity user, Terrie’s unconventional commitment ceremony was officiated by celebrity marriage celebrant, Perfect Match star, Greg Evans.
To draw attention to the 91% hike in electricity prices Australians have endured over the past five years1, the commitment ceremony was held in the shadows of the Essential Services Commission of Victoria, the governing body that regulates electricity prices.
By marrying an EnergyMatters.com.au solar panel, Terrie will join the millions of Australians who have become their own power stations by collectively installing more than of 2 gigawatts of solar electricity5. This self-sufficiency means Terrie and those like her can protect themselves against the power companies and their rorts.
Since moving from a 5 bedroom house in Toowoomba six years ago to her current 4 bedroom Tamworth house, Terrie claims her bill has skyrocketed by 569% ($130/quarter to $870/quarter). Tamworth, like most of country NSW, is renowned for having Australia’s most expensive electricity prices. But that’s only where her horror story begins. Being on a single parent’s pension, the mother of four who works part time as a mental health consultant, did not receive the discounts or rebates she was entitled to by her energy supplier. If it wasn’t for her eagle-eye that caught the company out, Terrie would be none the wiser and would have paid the jacked up prices on her bill.
“Living in tropical Toowoomba our bills were cheap in comparison, and we had the air con blasting all the time,” said Terrie. “Tamworth’s out-of-control electricity prices are a different story. The kids and I have rationalised our energy consumption completely and yet our bills are still beyond belief.
“Despite paying my bill on time and being eligible for a 4% discount, none was received. I also supplied my pension rebate details, which were also ignored. When I received the bill, that’s when the alarm bells really went off. How could a bill be so high, especially when the kids and I were away for a five weeks of that time with an unwell child receiving treatment in Sydney. Naturally I questioned the bill and alerted them to the many discrepancies. Their response; ‘pay up or the power will be disconnected’. Heartless and rude is the best way to describe the service I received. I wonder how many other battlers are paying bills riddled with costly errors,” concluded Terrie.
“We believe Australians have been held to ransom by electricity suppliers for far too long, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” commented Nick Brass, solar expert from EnergyMatters.com.au. “Terrie is just the tip of the iceberg; as a nation we have watched our electricity bills skyrocket to unprecedented levels. We’ve held our protest in the shadows of Essential Services Commission of Victoria because these guys and their interstate counterparts have the power to encourage lower prices. So far only one state in Australia has the balls to recommend lowering electricity prices, and it’s thanks to that state’s proactive support of solar power.
“The Essential Service Commission of South Australia recommended on 9 October 2012 a substantial electricity price drop of 8.1% for all of South Australia; the impetus being the state has benefited substantially from the increase in supply of wind and solar energy being made to the grid (source: Climate Spectator 9 Oct, 2012). Put simply, electricity supply increased because of solar and wind energy while demand remained the same. Of course prices should drop.
“It’s interesting to note, the only entity complaining about this recommended drop is the state’s largest energy supplier, AGL,” continued Nick Brass.
The rort by Australia’s big electricity companies doesn’t stop there however. For homes producing their own solar energy, their excess electricity is being bought by these energy companies for a pittance and then on-sold to their next-door neighbour at an exorbitant profit.
EnergyMatters.com.au recently undertook an independent survey of 1,506 Australians4 and asked the following question: ‘If you owned a solar panel system that generated excess electricity that could be fed back into the system, how much do you think the energy providers should pay you for this energy?’ The results revealed 50% said energy companies should be paying more because there should be an incentive for people generating environmentally friendly energy, 43% said energy companies should be buying it at the same price they sell it, while only 8% said less because they were happy getting a nominal amount for energy that would’ve gone to waste anyway.
The reality is significantly different; all states except Tasmania and South Australia have electricity companies buying this excess solar energy at approximately 6-8 cents a kilowatt. Many companies are then on-selling it at more than 30 cents a kilowatt; a profit of more than 400%.
“All good relationships should be for the long haul, where you treat each other with mutual respect,” said Greg Evans. “There has to be a bit of give and take, but electricity companies have been nothing but take-take over the past five years. The good news is that Terrie’s new system is here for a long time; an Energy Matters solar power system is guaranteed for 25 years.
“Once installed, the average price you will pay for energy is only 7 cents per kWh2. Much better than the 31.29 cents per kWh country NSW residents are currently paying with Origin Energy. A new Energy Matters customer can save more than $1,000 each year off their electricity bill3,” said Greg.
“We implore governments to not bow down to the intense pressure of electricity conglomerates and their heavy handed lobbyists. Give solar a chance. Not only is it great for the environment, you’re actually going to help drive down energy prices for all other consumers,” concluded Nick Brass.
INTERVIEWS WITH GREG EVANS, NICK BRASS AND TERRIE HOLZ
Finbar Corrall on 02 9365 0007 or 0412 792 674
About Energy Matters
Energy Matters is one of Australia’s largest companies solely dedicated to solar energy with warehouses around the country and a staff of over 100. The award winning business was founded in 2005 and has since installed over 15,000 solar power systems on homes, schools and commercial buildings, including Australia’s largest privately funded solar photovoltaic project – a 200kW rooftop array in Sydney. Energy Matters is committed to helping Australians live in a world of energy abundance by providing quality solar systems at affordable prices. Its nationwide team of passionate and knowledgeable solar advocates, expert installers and reputable brands are the foundation of its success.
Energy Matters is 100% Australian owned and sources only products which have been tested in Australia’s harsh conditions. With expertise in both grid connect and stand-alone power, Energy Matters is able to provide flexible clean energy solutions to fit almost all needs.
To learn more or join the thousands of Australians who have already gone solar, visit www.energymatters.com.au .
1. The Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER’s) recently released sixth State of the Energy Market report
2. The following guide is based on a solar system in Sydney – other states will deliver similar results, albeit slightly higher or lower:
A 3kW system in Sydney over 20 years will generate almost 90MWh’s of electricity over 20 years:
3kW system x 4.54 sun hours (Sydney) x 0.9 (efficiency) = 12.26 kWh/day
12.26 kWh/day x 365 days x 20 years = 89,483kWh over 20 years
System price = $5999
Price per kWh of solar electricity = 6.7c/kWh
5999/89,483 = $0.067/kWh
(note: 20 years as the panel degrade over time. Their performance reduces by 1% per year. So using 20 years takes account for that.
3. Install a 5kW solar system with 50% onsite consumption anywhere in Australia
4. Energy Matters conducted a national survey of 1506 consumers through the Digital Edge between 6 and 9 November 2012. The results were weighted according to age, gender, location and household income.