Power bills & supply motivate solar installation

Katina Curtis
(Australian Associated Press)

The quest for cheaper power bills is prompting nearly half of Australian households to either have already installed solar panels or want to do so.

Wanting to cut the cost and reduce dependence on the national electricity grid were the top two reasons why people with solar panels got them, a survey for Energy Consumers Australia finds.

Protecting the environment was a lower priority, coming in fifth on the list of reasons people installed solar.

“There’s a lot of assumptions made about what motivates this group, but when we ask consumers directly, we find they’re a pretty mainstream bunch,” Energy Consumers Australia chief executive Rosemary Sinclair said on Tuesday.

“They’re looking for a way to cut their energy bills like everyone else, and they’ve lost faith in the traditional market’s capacity to deliver value for money and are taking matters into their own hands.”

The survey found 15 per cent of households had solar while another 34 per cent were considering getting panels.

Most judged the success of the purchase by how much they had managed to cut their power bills, with four in five saying it had proved good value for money.

People surveyed who didn’t have solar panels also saw the benefits of lower power bills, but most said the cost of installing them was prohibitive.

They were also much more likely to be renters or living in units, making installation difficult.

With battery technology becoming better and cheaper, the survey found that five per cent of households already had batteries and another 27 per cent were considering them.

Ms Sinclair said the increasing take-up of both solar and batteries was happening faster than predicted, meaning politicians needed to start thinking about implications for the market.

“If we don’t listen to what consumers are telling us and monitor consumers’ experiences in this changing market, we’ll end up like other industries such as music and taxis where consumers and technology change shifts the ground under everyone’s feet and policy makers struggle to keep up with the transition,” she said.


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