As low-income earners are feeling the pressure of rising electricity costs, one Ballarat community organisation is working to improve accessibility to renewable energy.
Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions is installing solar panels on social housing and not-for-profit community organisations through its Social Solar program.
BREAZE treasurer Peter Reid said those on the lowest income were least able to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.
“Solar PV tends to go on upper and middle class houses because they have got the capital resources to do it. We want to extend that across the whole socioeconomic spectrum,” he said.
In four years the Social Solar program has raised $57,500 through community donations and grants, which has supported the installation of 54 kW of solar PV.
One arm of the program called One Dollar For One Watt has on social housing, installing solar PV systems on four units and one house in Ballarat, two units in Ararat and one unit in Horsham.
Solar PV tends to go on upper and middle class houses because they have got the capital resources to do it.Peter Reid, BREAZE
Mr Reid said partnering with not-for-profit organisations who were the landlords of social housing meant the benefits could flow on to tenants.
“Some of the units we installed solar on house people living on Newstart. Reducing electricity costs for people on social support payments has a big impact in that it reduces one of their major expenses and gives them more disposable income,” he said.
“The people who really miss out are low income earners in rental properties. We haven’t been able to work out a scheme for that group yet but are working on that and are happy to talk to any interested landlords about it.”
Uniting Ballarat chief executive Sean Duffy said increasing power bills and cost of housing meant many people were having to turn off lights, fans and heaters, or in some cases, have their power turned off.
BREAZE also installed a 30 KW solar PV system on the roof of Ballarat Regional Industries’ factory in 2016 as part of the social renewables program. Reduced energy costs meant BRI could employ up to three more people with disabilities.
Installation of 10 kW solar PV system on Lifeline Op Shop in Howitt Street is another project in the pipeline, pending funding. Reduced energy costs would mean more money could go directly to Lifeline.
A representative from disability service McCallum Industries will speak at the BREAZE AGM on November 19 from 5.30pm at the Lake View Hotel about how solar installation has helped its organisation cut costs.
You can support BREAZE to install solar by donating to One Dollar For One Watt online at breaze.org.au/.
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