Solar – who’s got your back?

Aug 15, 2021 | Clean energy, Sustainable homes

Residential solar power is a great way of saving money and making a significant contribution to reducing the CO2 that Banyule produces. Banyule City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019, with the goal of making Banyule carbon neutral by 2040 and household solar plays an important part in this transition.

Australia has one of the best uptakes of residential solar energy in the world. Last year alone 334,000 homes installed rooftop solar.

However, it’s not smooth sailing for everyone. A recent article in The Age (3 August 2021), highlights the difficulties experienced by some homeowners when something goes wrong.

Problems experienced by the residents interviewed included equipment failure, long delays in installation, poorly installed systems and installation companies closing. Poor installation and poor customer service were high on the list of issues for people.

The huge demand for rooftop solar means that some companies have entered the market and are inexperienced, not properly trained, or use cheaper, substandard equipment. In some cases, installations can be dangerous. Simply finding your way through the maze of offers and suppliers to a reliable company can be a headache.

Even once you have your system installed, a major issue is that there is no easy recourse for customers of installation companies which have closed or simply refuse to fix problems. This is not uncommon. Unfortunately neither Consumer Affairs nor the Ombudsman have much power when customers have a complaint.

Banyule Clean Energy Group (BCEG) is a not-for-profit community group which offers advice and information about solar power installations.

BCEG is able to manage all aspects of installing solar power. BCEG takes a whole picture view, beginning with a detailed assessment of data on current and expected future power needs. There is a thorough assessment of the property to determine what system is suitable. There is also an analysis of the expected financial benefit alongside the cost of installation.

Michael Copsey, president of BCEG says that the group is able to act as an intermediary with the solar installation company chosen by the homeowner, and is able to follow through with the company to ensure everything is working properly.

As a community group, committed to the goal of zero emissions in Banyule, BCEG is able to give residents the best, most reliable advice and follow-up service to allow them make the informed choices when installing renewable energy.

To date, BCEG has arranged solar installations for 3 commercial properties, including IDV in Macleod and 20 household installations are either completed or in the process of completion.

BCEG also advises on all aspects of an all-electric household: solar installations, heat pumps, reverse-cycle systems and appliances.

Disclosure: I am Secretary of Banyule Clean Energy Group, working entirely in a voluntary capacity with the group.

Written by Paul Gale-Barker

Solar panel installations are growing, but consumers have little recourse if things go wrong