A so­lar stitch up?

Lo­cal so­lar ini­tia­tive con­cern over door knocker rip offs

Euroa Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY WILL MUR­RAY ed­i­tor@euroa-gazette.com.au

THE pop­u­lar­ity of rooftop so­lar has in­creased rapidly in the district in re­cent months, spurred on by the com­bi­na­tion of in­creas­ing power prices, more af­ford­able pan­els, and new ini­tia­tives like the ‘Bo­gie Bulk Buy’ mak­ing the switch to so­lar more at­trac­tive.

The more so­lar pan­els sold in the area, how­ever, can have un­in­tended con­se­quences, as more and more bro­kers move in to try and take ad­van­tage of the com­mu­nity’s re­cep­tive­ness to so­lar.

As some have found out in the last few weeks, not all these busi­nesses are made equal, and both coun­cil and those run­ning the Bo­gie Bulk Buy program, the Yarra En­ergy Foun­da­tion (YEF), have concerns some res­i­dents may be get­ting ripped off by door knock­ing sales­peo­ple.

Un­der the Bo­gie Bulk Buy Program res­i­dents qual­ify for free and in­de­pen­dent ad­vice from YEF about what sys­tem would best suit the house­hold’s need.

To this point the program has been in­cred­i­bly popular, with over 150kW worth of so­lar pan­els sold - well be­yond the ex­pec­ta­tions of coun­cil and YEF.

So far, YEF say that equates to just over 7100 tonnes of CO2e abated, as well as $67,000 saved in en­ergy bills ev­ery year across the com­mu­nity.

While the program has an af­fil­i­ated com­pany in Cherry So­lar, YEF said they en­cour­aged peo­ple to buy so­lar from any rep­utable busi­ness, and that of course, peo­ple should shop around to get the best deal.

How­ever, that’s not nec­es­sar­ily that easy, es­pe­cially when home­own­ers are con­fronted with tech­ni­cal jar­gon, and at times com­plex sums to cal­cu­late a re­turn on their ini­tial in­vest­ment.

YEF say they have some concerns about cer­tain busi­nesses of­fer­ing in­fe­rior prod­ucts and deals un­der the guise of be­ing part of the Bulk Buy Program, which they worry could erode com­mu­nity faith in rep­utable and hon­est so­lar com­pa­nies and the program.

“Our role in the Bo­gie Bulk Buy is to en­sure res­i­dents and busi­nesses can ac­cess in­de­pen­dent ad­vice around so­lar and feel safe and con­fi­dent that they are get­ting a good deal on qual­ity prod­ucts,” Dean Kline, the Yarra En­ergy Foun­da­tion CEO said.

“We en­cour­age peo­ple to call us to dis­cuss any so­lar quotes they have re­ceived, re­gard­less of whether they are through the Shire of Strath­bo­gie’s program or not.

“We are here to pro­vide in­de­pen­dent ad­vice.”

YEF have three gen­eral tips for those who might be ap­proached with a num­ber of sep­a­rate deals for so­lar pan­els.

Tip num­ber one is to do your home­work.

YEF say a sim­ple search on the in­ter­net can pro­vide a lot of in­for­ma­tion about that com­pany, and any red flags like spell­ing errors, a lack of in­for­ma­tion, or a lack of con­tact de­tails, will be­come ob­vi­ous.

Tip num­ber two is to be wary of door knock­ers.

While many rep­utable com­pa­nies use door knock­ing to ap­proach cus­tomers, they en­cour­age cau­tion, and urge peo­ple not to sign any­thing on the day. Make sure you have time to do your own re­search, even if they of­fer in­cen­tives.

Tip num­ber three is; if in doubt, call YEF.

This is why the Yarra En­ergy Foun­da­tion is in­volved in the Bo­gie Bulk Buy.

Call them on 1300 866 634 to dis­cuss your op­tions, or ask about a quote that you have been given.

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