Free Solar For NSW Low-Income Households

NSW Government Solar Panels

Residents in New South Wales who have been receiving the Low-Income Households Rebate will now have the option to choose whether they would like to forego their rebate for 10 years in exchange for a free 3kW solar power system and installation worth $4000, which will assist in significantly reducing their energy bills.

Solar For Low Income Households Trial

The program, which was first announced last year, opened applications this week, and hopes to reduce low-income household bills in New South Wales by more than $600 per year.

In a recent media release Energy Minister Matt Kean said the NSW Government has committed $15 million to reduce the impact of high energy prices, particularly for vulnerable low-income households.

“For low income households the cost of buying and installing a rooftop solar system can be prohibitive, so we’ve set up this trial so more of these homeowners can unlock the savings benefit offered by rooftop solar generation. In addition to potential bill saving, the addition of up to 3,000 more rooftop solar systems will add more than 8 megawatts of renewable capacity to help support a clean, affordable and reliable electricity grid.” Energy Minister Matt Kean

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Solar Power System Vs. Current Rebate

Participating in the program means households will no longer be able to receive the Low-Income Household Rebate for at least 10 years. Currently the rebate provides a discount of $285 towards a low-income household’s annual electricity bills. For some of these households installing the 3kW solar power system could reduce their annual electricity bills by up to $600, however this will be heavily dependent on the time of day in which the majority of the household’s electricity is used.

Other factors to consider before choosing whether the solar system or the current rebate will be more beneficial for the low-income household is;

Solar For Low Income Households Trial Criteria

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During the trial phase the program will only be available to 3,000 eligible homeowners, in selected regions within New South Wales. To be able to participate in the trial, homeowners will need to meet the following criteria;

  • Receiving the Low-Income Household Rebate
  • Don’t currently own a solar system
  • Use at least 3,600 kilowatt hours of electricity annually
  • Own the home in which the solar system will be installed
  • Have a valid Pension Concession Card or Veterans Affairs Gold Card
  • Live in one of the following areas; Central Coast, North Coast, Sydney – South, Illawarra – Shoalhaven or South Coast

Three solar providers (SAE Group, Origin Energy and SolarHub) have been selected for the program and will be responsible for supplying and installing the solar systems across the five regions.

Applications to participate in the trial must be submitted through the NSW Energy Saver Website.

If you’re NOT eligible to participate in the trial and want to reduce your bills with solar, read our “How To Finance Your Solar System” blog to find out how you can get on your way to solar savings today.

How To Finance Your Solar System

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Beginners Guide to Solar Power

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Includes detailed explanations and diagrams of the various types of solar systems and their parts, solar battery storage systems, Government incentives, expected ROI periods, finance, energy saving tips and more!

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.