Pay-As-You-Go Solar

Under a new pay-as-you-go offering that was a hit in the US, home owners will be able to avoid the initial cost of installing solar panels, along with future electricity price rises.

Private equity-backed Sungevity Australia, is a result of a partnership between Lismore solar installer Nickel Energy and San Francisco’s Sungevity, will initially offer the product, called Roof Juice, in northern New South Wales and Queensland, and extend it to the rest of the country by the end of the year.

In the US, the pay-as-you-go model has been a ”game changer” because it offers consumers immediate savings on their energy bill with no upfront cost according to Nickel director Nick Lake.

More than 40,000 homes have been fitted with panels using such third-party finance. In California this now accounted for 74 per cent of all residential solar installations – up from 16 per cent a few years ago.

Sungevity would charge an average of 22¢ per kilowatt-hour in NSW followed by Victoria – slightly less than the present retail tariff. This is for a guaranteed amount of power generated each year by the solar panels the company would install and maintain, over a 20-year contract, says Mr Lake. The price would rise each year in line with the consumer price index. A fixed-price option would allow home owners to lock in a slightly higher permanent rate – more in line with retail electricity pricing from July.

According to Mr Lake, Sungevity’s remote system design software uses aerial imagery to accurately calculate the solar potential of a home. In states with a feed-in tariff, such as Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, the number of panels installed would be matched to total household energy use. In NSW, which has no feed-in tariff, the system would be big enough only to match peak daytime usage.

Sungevity would keep the small-scale renewable energy certificates generated by the solar panels.

Mr Lake said he expected to install 5000 systems this year, using Nickel’s network of preferred installers and field managers.

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