WA Greens Announce Solar Social Housing Initiative

Housing spokesperson for the WA Greens, Lynn MacLaren, has unveiled her party’s plans to slash the power bills of Western Australia’s poorest families and pensioners.

The $68 million plan would see all public and community housing with 1.5kW rooftop solar power systems installed; reducing electricity bills on average by $500 a year.

“We have around 22,000 public housing homes and apartments across WA and another nearly 8,000 community housing units,” said Ms. MacLaren. “Their roofs could be used to assist householders in meeting rising utilities costs while at the same time reducing the state’s growing carbon footprint.”

The initiative paper criticises the Western Australian government’s recently announced solar-panel pilot program for public housing involving 500 properties at a cost of $1 million; calling it inadequate, “underwhelming” and lacking long term commitment.

The Greens plan cost is based on $2000 a roof plus around $276 a home for a smart meter. Its initiative will also provide $15 million in direct grants to the community housing sector to install solar power systems on nearly 7,500 houses the sector manages.

The Greens state other benefits from the initiative include:

– Lowering carbon emissions by 74,000 tonnes annually

– Reducing demand for another centralised power station – collectively, the solar panels would be the equivalent of a 45MW power station.

– Encourage the development of WA’s renewable energy sector

“If we can make this much difference to our emission profile with such a simple programme, surely the State should make all efforts to facilitate this,” says the paper.

The Solar Powered Social Housing policy paper can be viewed here (PDF).

120,000 solar panel systems were installed in WA during 2010-2012. Current solar feed in tariff incentives for home solar power systems in Western Australia pay 8c to 50c per kilowatt hour for surplus electricity exported to the mains grid.