Victorian tenants demand public housing solar installations to cut power bills

Victorian government ushers in big battery era with Gannawarra solar battery farm.

Elderly residents on a Port Melbourne housing estate are demanding public housing solar installations across Victoria.

Many of the 36 residents on the Williamstown Road estate are home most of the day because they are sick or have mobility problems. As a result they struggle to pay sky-high power bills on their pensions.

Now the tenants are banding together to urge the Victorian State Government to install solar panels on every public housing rooftop. There is also the possibility of batteries being included in the systems. This is a solution that additionally will help the environment as well as pensioners’ hip pockets.

Victorian Solar Homes rebates should cover public housing

The tenants say they are missing out on the Andrews Government solar subsidies offered under the state’s highly successful Solar Homes program.

Public housing solar installations should be covered by Solar Homes say tenants.

Providers of not-for-profit community housing in Victoria can apply to the Solar Homes program. Image: Community Housing Council of SA.

On July 1 the second phase of the scheme will extend solar installation rebates to include interest-free loans for purchase of solar power systems. It will also introduce rebates for solar battery storage.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, public housing resident Meredith Munro says the 64,000 pensioners in Victoria’s public housing are missing out on the ‘solar bonanza’ of rebates and subsidies enjoyed by householders.

Munro also wants to generate clean, renewable power to contribute to climate action. It’s not just about slashing power bills she says.

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) agrees. According to CEC Director of Smart Energy Darren Gladman, the Victorian Government would reduce its own welfare bill by investing in solar power for public housing tenants.

Victorian decision on public housing solar imminent

The Andrews Labor Government is considering whether to include public housing tenants in the solar rebate scheme.

The Solar Opportunities for Public Housing Assets report was commissioned in 2017. Findings are due to be handed down this month, the SMH reports.

Meanwhile, not-for-profit community housing providers can apply for rebates under the Solar Homes scheme. They can register interest on behalf of their tenants.

The Victorian Government is also investing in solar microgrids for households and businesses in multi-tenant buildings. This includes apartment blocks and commercial multi-storey buildings.

Three test buildings are trialling the microgrids in Melbourne. The $2 million project will help tenants reap the benefits of shared solar panel and battery storage systems.

Public housing solar installations trialled in Queensland

A NSW academic also says the government should do more to help low-income families access solar power. Professor Paul Cooper of the University of Wollongong claims public housing solar installations will reduce tenants’ large power bills.

Families living in public housing in Queensland’s City of Logan are taking part in the Palaszczuk Government’s solar trial for low-income families. The scheme has already helped tenants in Cairns and Rockhampton access discounted solar panels.

Meanwhile, Solar Citizens data shows that lower-income households are installing solar power at a faster rate than their wealthy counterparts.