A Wollongong mayoral candidate is calling for a $400,000 ‘coal cash’ loan scheme to fund rooftop solar for low-income households.
In a statement to Energy Matters, Greens mayoral candidate Mithra Cox said she wants to establish a $400,000 fund for interest-free loans. Loans would be available to Wollongong residents on low incomes to buy rooftop solar.
The loan fund would be paid for by outstanding debts owed to council by Wollongong Coal.
“With energy prices rising sharply, people are hurting,” Ms Cox said.
“Many people on low incomes can’t afford to heat their homes in the winter, and are cutting back on essentials just to pay their electricity bills.”
No upfront costs, just a chance to slash power bills
Ms Cox told the Illawarra Mercury that Council would own the panels until they were paid off. In addition, there would be no upfront cost to borrowers.
The solar energy generation from the rooftop panels would allow residents on low incomes to slash their electricity bills.
The loans would be available to people with a health care concession card, and renters would be eligible with a landlord’s assent.
Ms Cox says the ‘coal cash’ is owed in unpaid security bonds going back to 1991. She said Council was not being proactive in pursuing Wollongong Coal to pay their debts.
“If any other ratepayer had debts dating back to 1991, the debt collectors would be knocking on the front door. Council should treat Wollongong Coal just like any other ratepayer and insist they pay the money that is owed.”
The proposed solar fund loan scheme at a glance
- Eligible to low income people with a health care card.
- Renters eligible with the consent and agreement of the landlord.
- Loans interest free and administered by Wollongong Council.
- Council will own the solar panels until the loan is repaid in full.
- It will be a rolling fund: all loan repayments will go back into the fund and made available to new borrowers.
- No upfront cost to borrowers.
- The $400,000 loan fund will be funded by money owed to Wollongong Council by Wollongong Coal for security bonds on their Russel Vale mine.