Governments unite with $206 million clean energy initiative

The Commonwealth and New South Wales governments have announced a $206 million package aimed at funding energy saving upgrades in social housing properties and increasing access to solar for low-income renters and apartment residents across the state.

More than 30,000 homes are in line for a share of a $206 million funding package with the Commonwealth and New South Wales (NSW) governments announcing the funding will be used to improve energy efficiency and expanding access to solar power.

“We want all Australians to have access to cleaner, cheaper energy,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said. “This $206 million package will mean 30,000 households across NSW will be able to access upgrades that will make their homes more energy efficient.”

As part of the joint initiative, more than 24,000 social housing properties in the state will be eligible for grants to deliver renewable energy solutions, including rooftop solar and hot water systems.

The grants worth a total of $175 million over four years will be jointly funded by the NSW and Commonwealth governments.

The federal government is also investing $30 million to help apartment residents and low-income households in NSW access solar energy by subsidising rooftop solar installations and providing grants to access a share of a ‘solar garden community energy plot.

The Solar Banks initiative will deliver rebates of up to 50% of rooftop solar installation costs for multi-unit dwellings while some residents who can’t afford onsite rooftop solar could be eligible for a subsidy to purchase an offsite ‘solar garden’ portion of a large-scale solar farm under the deal.

NSW Energy Minister Penny Sharpe said the Solar Banks program will support more than 10,000 apartment dwellers and renters who have traditionally been locked out of owning solar.

“By partnering with the Commonwealth, we will be able to roll out a series of vital upgrades and initiatives that will deliver bill savings for low-income earners, make homes more comfortable to live in and reduce carbon emissions,” she said.

Cameron Knox, Chief Executive Officer of Australian solar technology company Allume Energy, said the Solar Banks scheme is an “absolute boon for NSW residents,” noting that if it follows the template of other jurisdictions like Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), it will halve the average rooftop solar install cost of $3,500-$4,000 per apartment, depending on how big the building is.

“This is something that councils have been crying out for,” Knox said. “They have been trying to accelerate the electrification and broader energy efficiency improvement of apartments by arming residents with knowledge and tools, but without the funding support to facilitate change they have been hamstrung.”

Knox said he expects the state and federal government funding assistance will catalyse the approach to retrofitting and modernising strata buildings nationally.

“The really good news for apartment dwellers in NSW eager to utilise this scheme to reduce their carbon footprint, is that they live in the easiest state to push these types of improvements through,” he said.

In addition to the energy upgrades and solar bank initiatives, a further $1 million will be invested in as yet identified community renewable energy projects on the NSW Far South Coast.

Author: Ev Foley

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