Strata dwellers sidelined in Victorian Solar Homes program

Strata dwellers left out of Solar Homes.

Strata dwellers are missing out on the financial benefits offered by Victoria’s Solar Homes program.

That’s the message from a forum hosted by the We Live Here lobby group in Melbourne. The group lobbies for residents living in high-density areas including strata titles like apartment buildings.

As reported by Docklands News, strata lawyer Tom Bacon says  Victoria’s Solar Homes rebates extend to 670,000 freestanding homes only. Any cuts in retail electricity prices are also unlikely to benefit owners’ corporations, Bacon says.

How strata dwellers fund homeowner solar subsidies

The Victorian government is offering voters half-priced solar power ahead of the November state election.

Strata dwellers miss out on Solar Homes initiative.

Apartment dwellers and renters in areas like Melbourne Docklands will miss out on Victorian solar bonanza. Image: Pixabay

They are doing this because of private assurances that existing coal-fired power stations will stay open, Bacon claims.

He says that in return power companies will cap power prices for some homeowners.

Yet owners corporations and larger businesses are likely to be on different electricity rates. This means they will miss out on lower prices.

Those on embedded networks will also be disadvantaged, Bacon adds. It is therefore unlikely that full discounts will be passed on.

AEMO warning about solar ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

In April this year the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) flagged a growing divide between solar ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

According to AEMO CEO Audrey Zibelman, those unable to install solar could end up subsidising the electricity network.

Someone has to pay for the distribution network’s poles and wires, she said. Households and businesses connected to the grid have traditionally shared these costs.

Proportional costs may therefore rise for renters, apartment dwellers and low-income earners without solar.

Solar solutions for tenants and strata dwellers

Fortunately, a range of solutions is available to those without solar panel installations.

For example, the $10 million Microgrid Demonstration program will fund eight microgrid projects across Victoria.

Three test multi-tenant buildings in Melbourne will offer shared solar panel and battery storage systems for occupants.

Solar gardens are another way for tenants and strata dwellers to enjoy the benefits of solar. Residents offer a stake in a solar garden and take it with them when they move.

Meanwhile, SunTenants has partnered with Energy Matters to install solar on rental properties. This uses a fair ‘split incentive’ which shares solar benefits between tenant and landlord.

Lobby group We Live Here also advocates for those in high density living. This includes low-rise and high-rise apartment dwellers.