Martin Chape has thrown off the shackles of electricity giant Western Power and gone off the grid with his solar- powered Bellevue home.
MARTIN Chape has thrown off the shackles of electricity giant Western Power and gone off the grid with his solar- powered Bellevue home.
And now the owner of Marty’s House is pushing for legislative changes so residents can distribute excess power to their neighbours at a cheaper rate than Synergy.
All of Mr Chape’s power comes through an SMA Sunny Island system, which allows disconnection from the electricity grid.
“These systems were designed for a small off- thegrid network in a remote village,” he said.
“But expand your mind and think of your block in a suburb as an island.
“Think of a co- operative where members hold shares which fund the capital cost of the installation of the grid.
“Each home on the street would create a satellite system where they all generate their own solar power, with surplus power sent back to the grid for others in the street to call on when required.
“The cost of drawing power this way would be significantly cheaper than what customers are currently paying for electricity from Synergy.”
However, Mr Chape said he was told distributing energy to his neighbours would require a distribution licence from the Department of Finance.
“While each freehold title lot is required to have a point of supply available for electricity, that does not mean people have to actually connect to it and have an account with a retailer such as Synergy,” he said.
“The co- operative is not intended to sell electricity but rather share the network amongst the members.
“So technically you can take a whole street off the grid, but legally you can’t.
“It will take some political will and changes to the industry before this becomes a realistic option.”
Mr Chape predicted the industry would continue to evolve as battery technology became more affordable and load shifting moved consumption to less busy periods.
Marty’s House is one of more than 20 environmentally friendly homes open on Sustainable House Day on September 16.
Martin Chape in his backyard.