Department of Energy and Water Supply

Solar for public housing trial

A trial is being conducted to deliver cheaper solar energy for vulnerable electricity customers living in government-owned public housing.

The trial aims to reduce the cost of living pressures for the state’s tenants in the trial locations, and will help some of Queensland’s most vulnerable electricity customers. To date, tenants have faced multiple barriers to accessing solar power, including high up-front costs and because they are in a rental arrangement. This trial seeks to overcome these barriers and demonstrate benefits to all parties involved.

The trial will deliver 3 to 6 megawatts of solar, up to 2,000 to 4,000 government-owned, detached houses. It will test different business models tailored to the local electricity market, network conditions and housing profile:

  • a rooftop solar farm installed on government services in the remote indigenous diesel powered community of Lockhart River
  • a solar power purchase agreement for properties managed by the Cairns and Rockhampton Housing Service Centres in regional Queensland, and for properties managed by the Woodridge Housing Service Centre in Queensland.

A comprehensive analysis of Queensland’s public housing stock was undertaken to find suitable trial locations. Data from the first year of the trials will be used to evaluate the costs and benefits and determine if the business models are viable.

Remote trial

The Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council was selected as the remote trial site because of its suitable community make-up, network characteristics and energy load.

In 2017, solar power will be installed on government buildings in the township and will send power directly into the local grid. The solar power will reduce the amount of diesel fuel required to power the township, and savings will be shared with public housing tenants. Public housing tenants in Lockhart River can expect a solar benefit of $100 per year.

Regional and rural Queenslanders are subsidised for the additional costs involved in supplying electricity outside South-East Queensland through government payments to Ergon Energy – the Community Service Obligation (CSO) payment. By reducing the diesel costs required to power the township, the trial will also reduce the cost of the CSO for Lockhart River. Reducing diesel usge is also good for the local environment.

Regional and metropolitan trials

A solar power purchase agreement (or SPPA) will be trialled in the Cairns, Rockhampton and Woodridge Housing Service Centre areas.

The households will use both grid and solar power. Tenants purchase the solar power at a rate set by the SPPA.

The price paid per kilowatt hour for the solar power will be cheaper than electricity from the grid. Tenants will receive the benefits of cheaper solar power through a reduced electricity bill. Digital electricity meters will also be installed so that households receive their power bill more regularly (fortnightly or monthly), helping tenants to manage power bills.

Find out more

The Department of Housing and Public Works will contact eligible tenants to invite them to participate in the trials once details are finalised.

To find out more, visit the Department of Housing and Public Works or contact your nearest Housing Service Centre.

Last updated:
12 June 2017
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