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Solar trial shines on local communities

Almost 500 public housing households in Lockhart River, Cairns and Rockhampton are hooked up to clean energy, and saving money, under a Palaszczuk Government’s solar energy initiative.

More than 350 households in Cairns and Rockhampton now have solar systems installed, but time is running out for other public housing tenants to join the trial.

In a joint statement, Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham and  Housing Minister Mick de Brenni encouraged other Cairns and Rockhampton tenants who have been invited to apply to get in before this Friday’s deadline to join in the solar savings.

“This trial is offering power savings for tenants as well as opening new markets for our booming  renewables industry here in Queensland,” Dr Lynham said.

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said the trial was making the benefits of renewable energy accessible for Queenslanders in lower-income households.

“Public housing tenants participating in the trial in Cairns in Rockhampton are now using their solar power and can expect to see savings of up to $250 a year,” he said.

While Ergon is installing 30 new systems per week in the trial in Cairns and Rockhampton, 130 households are using  rooftop solar power to power the remote far northern Indigenous community of Lockhart River.

A 200 kilowatt rooftop solar farm and battery system has been installed on government and council buildings and is now providing around 10 per cent of the community’s power supply.

“This is bringing 130 families electricity savings of $100 per year and has also helped the environment by reducing the community’s use of diesel for generating electricity by up to 75,000 litres per year,” Dr Lynham said.

Mr de Brenni said with renters unable to access solar unless it was already installed on the property, the trials were an important step towards all Queenslanders having the opportunity to experience the benefits of renewable energy.

“The trial aims to install more than 700 solar systems on the State’s public housing in Cairns and Rockhampton with a total capacity of around 3 megawatts,” he said.

“Next, we want to use the trial to help to develop a workable model so solar power can be offered to Queenslanders renting in the private market,”.”

Energy Queensland chief executive officer David Smales said this was a great opportunity for Ergon to work with local communities to help deliver renewable energy solutions for public housing tenants.

“Previously tenancy arrangements have prevented public housing tenants from accessing solar, so this trial removes that barrier,” Mr Smales said.

Queensland Council of Social Service Chief Executive Officer Mark Henley said the project was a win for families battling the escalating cost of living.

“More and more low-income households are being affected by rising electricity costs,” Mr Henley said.

“This innovative trial will provide a great opportunity for some low-income households to have access to the benefits of solar which they otherwise would not have had.”

For more information visit www.qld.gov.au/solartrial

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