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Avon Valley Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

Pic­ture: David Baylis

Martin Chape in his back­yard.

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