Solar leases framed as power purchase agreements have attracted strong interest among homebuyers at The Amble Estate, a housing development in Girrawheen. In the first scheme of its kind for Western Australia (WA), homeowners are provided with a PV array with no upfront cost under an attractive 10-year contract.
Housing Minister Peter Tinley and Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk toured The Amble Estate on Tuesday where 90% of homebuyers have signed up to be part of the solar scheme.
“The Amble Estate is proving popular with buyers looking for diverse, well-located housing in Girrawheen,” said WA Housing Minister Peter Tinley. “I was pleased to meet one of the new homeowners and hear how the solar PPA system and a range of sustainability initiatives had saved them money while supporting the environment.”
The scheme was launched last March by Perth-based solar installer and electricity retailer Infinite Energy, which was fully acquired by Japanese industrial giant Sumitomo Corporation earlier this year. Thanks to the solar leases, residents pay around 40% less for daytime solar energy than the usual daytime rate offered by WA utility Synergy. Every two months, Infinite Energy invoices customers for their daily generated solar electricity, while Synergy issues a separate invoice for the grid electricity, including night consumption and any additional day consumption charged at the regular tariff.
The solar PPA promise significant, long-term savings to households and greater protection from fluctuations in power prices for the length of the 10-year agreement. According to the project partners, the model allows savings of up to $600 per year. In addition to saving $6,000 over the duration of the lease, the homebuyers become owners of the PV system once the PPA expires after only 10 years, which makes it more attractive than standard 20-year solar leases. This allows home owners to use the solar energy free of any tariffs for the remainder of the lifespan of the equipment, which could well be another 10 years.
The Amble Estate, which is a collaboration between the Department of Communities, Yolk Property Group and Ventura Home Group, will see up to 129 dwellings built over three stages on the former Hainsworth Primary School site. The development offers a range of affordable and environmentally sustainable land and housing options to families, couples, singles and downsizers. Homebuyers are also offered a complimentary Sustainable Living Package to reduce non-renewable energy use and create cost-savings for households.
At present, the scheme is available only at the newly-built Amble Estate in Girrawheen, but the project initiators believe that information gathered from this pilot, can be used to upscale and spread this type of PPA both in WA and beyond.