Cost brings so­lar boom

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY

A GARBUTT so­lar en­ergy busi­ness’s work­load has surged over the past three months as more house­holds look to the Sun to burn a hole in their soar­ing elec­tric­ity costs.

So­la­hart Townsville has been in­un­dated with calls from house­hold­ers look­ing to in­stall both so­lar hot wa­ter and power sys­tems af­ter a re­cent surge in quar­terly elec­tric­ity bills.

So­la­hart Townsville man­ager Emma Walden said her busi­ness was do­ing at least one house­hold in­stal­la­tion a day, with An­nan­dale, Kelso, Cran­brook and Kir­wan prov­ing to be some of the sub­urb hotspots.

She said while many of the sys­tems were first- time in­stal­la­tions, there had also been a spike in peo­ple with older sys­tems look­ing to up­grade due to ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy.

“We have been get­ting swamped with calls lately and in the last three months we have been get­ting ab­so­lutely smashed,” she said. “Peo­ple are mov­ing to­wards want­ing to in­stall so­lar be­cause peo­ple are start­ing to un­der­stand a lot more about the tech­nol­ogy just as the price of elec­tric­ity is go­ing up.”

Idalia par­ents Paula and Daniel Hal­l­i­day this week had a So­la­hart sys­tem worth more than $ 10,000 in­stalled af­ter their last quar­terly bill peaked at $ 900.

“Our power bills weren’t re­ally that bad, about $ 400-$ 500, but a hike seemed to hit a few months ago and ba­si­cally we went from sum­mer bill to a win­ter bill that was even higher and it just didn’t make sense,” she said.

“We thought if this is go­ing to be the trend, it was go­ing to be more vi­able pay­ing a so­lar sys­tem off with the money we would’ve had to start putting away for the higher bills.”

Townsville MP Scott Ste­wart said the State Govern­ment was still adamant it would not sup­port a new coal- fired base load power sta­tion in the North as a means of driv­ing down power costs. In­stead, he said, he was sup­port­ive of res­i­dents and the Govern­ment con­tin­u­ing to tran­si­tion to­ward re­new­ables.

“So­lar pan­els across Queens­land have be­come our big­gest en­ergy pro­ducer, ex­ceed­ing even power sta­tions,” he said.

“We won’t go down the road of old tech­nol­ogy and are look­ing the fu­ture and the fu­ture is re­new­ables.”

Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

TOO DEAR: Paula Hal­l­i­day, with son Bai­ley, 1, had a so­lar sys­tem in­stalled af­ter their elec­tric­ity bill peaked at $ 900.

So­la­hart Townsville owner Barry Hurd with daugh­ter Char­lotte, 18 months.

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