Organisers of an upcoming information session say there are many reasons people are asking after solar energy

GREEN POWER: Solar panels being installed on the roof of a central Victorian building. Picture: DARREN HOWE
GREEN POWER: Solar panels being installed on the roof of a central Victorian building. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Interest in an upcoming solar information session is being driven by new technology, spiraling electricity costs and consumers feeling confused in a competitive industry.

That’s the assessment of Jo Kaptein, a Hub Foundation project officer working on the More Australian Solar Homes’ community bulk-buy info session in Castlemaine last night.

Ms Kaptein said many of the community members she was talking to were being driven to the information session by bill stress.

“It’s a particular problem for older people on a pension, or those who are moving towards a fixed income and are concerned about how they will be impacted by rising electricity prices,” she said.

Ms Kaptein said there were many exciting new products on the market and many people she spoke wanted to know which might be right for them, especially since the recent emergence of home solar batteries.

“So there is a lot of confusion. What we want to do is help them navigate that. We want to make it easier … on them,” Ms Kaptein said.

She said The Hub Foundation’s philosophy was to not put the “hard-sell” on people, so there was no cold calling or door knocking.

“(The hard-sell can be) very stressful for people because it adds to that feeling of confusion about whether they are going with the right crowd, or getting ripped off. It’s really sad but it is indicative of the world of solar right now,” she said.

Ms Kaptein said consumers should install solar soon, with federal government incentives falling on 1 January 2018. 

The reduction would be equivalent to 6.5 per cent of a system’s current value. For example, a 5kw system would cost $400 more, Ms Kaptein said.

“So we are saying that for us to give prices at current levels you need to place an order by 30 November. That will give our installers enough time,” she said.

MASH was a not-for-profit project, though there were commercial operators using the term “community” as part of bulk-buy schemes. Ms Kaptein recommended people check out those companies and make sure they were genuine before committing to a deal.

A portion of proceeds from MASH’s bulk-buy would fund solar panels for community groups and schools. Community groups from the Bendigo, Mount Alexander and Macedon areas could make an expression of interest.

The MASH Solar Info Meeting takes place on Thursday from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Castlemaine Town Hall.