Council ‘coffs up’ for free solar PV advice service


Residents in Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast are now able to access free advice on solar PV and energy efficiency, and also have the opportunity to purchase solar and battery storage systems through selected suppliers after the council signed an agreement with the not-for-profit Australian Energy Foundation.

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight said council had recognised that many residents are interested in solar PV, battery storage and energy efficiency but may be deterred by the complexity of finding quality products and trusted installers.

“This service will guide residents to find the most suitable solar and battery system for them, helping us as a community respond to the climate change,” she said.

“Over 30% of homes in Coffs Harbour have rooftop solar so we are pleased to be expanding our services.”

The council’s concerns are not without foundation. A survey commissioned by Brisbane-based solar storage manufacturer Redback Technologies found that a lack of understanding was a barrier to the adoption of integrated solar and battery systems for more than one third of Australians.

In a 2019 survey of more than 1,000 Australian residents, 36% said a lack of understanding about how combined solar and battery systems work was a distinct barrier to their adoption while 35% of people said not knowing how to purchase one had effected their decision to install solar.

“Our survey shows there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding among consumers. As a result, people tend to wait and not make a purchase because they’re finding it hard to get good advice. That, naturally, is a problem for us as an industry,” Redback Technologies CEO  Patrick Matweew said at the time.

Australian Energy Foundation, formerly known as the Moreland Energy Foundation, works with homes, businesses and all levels of government in a bid to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

In a statement, the organisation said it had supported 27,000 households with energy advice and abated 372,000 tonnes of emissions since its launch in 2013.

The free energy advice service will be available throughout Autumn with Coffs Harbour City residents able to access advice online or by phone.

Council said it is a great opportunity for residents looking to get advice on choosing or switching energy retailers, managing their electricity bills or looking for advice on buying new energy efficient appliances.

Homeowners looking to adopt renewable energy at their home are also encouraged to make use of the service.

Knight said the new partnership will support Coffs Harbour City Council in achieving its sustainability goals, including sourcing all electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

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