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City warms to solar

Friday, 25th March, 2011

CHEAPER POWER: Scott Hooker had solar panels installed. CHEAPER POWER: Scott Hooker had solar panels installed.

More than 500 locals are enjoying lower power bills after taking up an offer of free solar panels.

About 1,000 residents, or 10 per cent of local households, took up a recent offer from Nu Energy to have solar panels installed on their roofs.

The company was able to offer the systems free because of incentives offered through the federal government's Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme.

It also promised ongoing savings to those eligible for the State Government's Solar Bonus Scheme.

Under the scheme, households with rooftop solar panels or wind turbines connected to the grid are paid a tariff for the electricity they generate, with the amount credited to customers' accounts.

Last year the NSW Government slashed the rebate from 60 cents per kilowatt hour to 20 cents KW/h. The new rate applied to customers applying for the rebate after October 27.

While panels were provided and installed at no cost, customers had to pay for their 1.5kw solar panels to be connected to a meter, Nu Energy chief executive Simon Schauble said.

He said despite trying weather conditions all panels should be installed by June and that most customers would see a significant reduction in electricity bills.

"(The panels provide) roughly 20 - 30 per cent of the home's power, depending on the size of their house," Mr Schauble said.

"We've either had scorching heat ... to days where it's been pouring rain.

"It's been one of the most difficult years in terms of weather but the great news is it's all on track."

Mr Schauble said locals had strongly supported the scheme and they would soon be offered a solar hot water scheme soon to further harness the sun's power.

Meanwhile, the Nationals MP for Murray-Darling John Williams yesterday blamed the "incompetence" of the NSW Government for "unnecessary increases in electricity prices."

Mr Williams said the Government had tried to cover up the Duffy-Parry report into electricity prices which was due for release three months ago.

"The report exposes the Labor's Government's incompetence and neglect as the reason why families face record price rises - power prices have risen by 43 percent in NSW in the last three years under Labor," he said.

"The report has found that the Government made decisions which led to a blow-out in the cost of producing electricity - and these were passed onto consumers.

"The bungled electricity asset sale and the threat of a carbon tax being imposed by a Labor Government will also add to the burden of increased electricity prices."

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