Solar revolving fund for Local Councils – Key Points
- Solar PV quite literally ‘pays for itself’.
- A revolving fund provides the temporary capital required with no impost on ratepayers if you pass on the interest cost to solar recipients.
- The only cost to Council is the work-hours to set up the solar revolving fund scheme.
- EVERY household in your area could have solar at no cost to themselves!
Download the Clever Climate Economics Powerpoint for an overview of how a local council solar revolving fund works.
There is also a ‘for live presentation’ version of the Powerpoint – less words on the screen because a presenter is talking. This one is for SA, but you can simply swap out the SA-specific figures (Slide 16) and swap in the slide with figures for your region (from the Appendices) instead.
Download an interactive Excel file showing indicative figures and payback periods for each capital city. You can customise the input fields (solar costs, interest rate, etc.) to automatically calculate quarterly payment amounts and payback terms that suit your area.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If a householder participates in a Council solar revolving fund scheme, their carbon emissions will be greatly reduced as soon as solar PV is installed. Not only will it reduce their own carbon footprint but the excess solar generation they export will reduce the overall carbon footprint of grid electricity used by others.
The following chart is an example showing the effect on their quarterly expenses if a householder participates in the solar scheme (assuming electricity bills are currently $500/quarter).
Note: The above figures are just an example to illustrate the pattern of expenses. Actual quarterly savings during the payback period (in this case 5 years) will vary depending on the amount of solar generation used on site and the amount of excess generation exported to the grid. The biggest savings will be for households that use most of the solar generation on site. Some households will save significantly more than the $30/quarter shown in the chart, and some might only break even (electricity bills + payments to Council = electricity bills prior to solar installation). However, in all cases, the householder will in effect end up with a ‘free’ solar installation at the end of the payback period and thereafter enjoy significant savings on household expenses.
Please get in touch if you would like to encourage your local council to set up a solar revolving fund.
Overview of potential Council procedures
- Determine capacity of your Council to fund a solar scheme – Council reserves? Low-interest loan?
- Check mechanisms your Council could use to receive receive solar repayments – Special Charge on rates notices? Other type of payment agreement?
- Get indicative costings for high-quality solar installations from reputable local suppliers
- Determine likely uptake of solar scheme – Public info session to explain concept and get preliminary indications of interest? Survey?
- Determine Council’s preferred system sizes, panels, inverters, monitoring, warranties, etc., to offer to local households/businesses
- Call for tenders from reputable solar suppliers so that precise costs are known
- Publicise solar scheme and invite applications for a solar installation from local residents/businesses (subject to outcome of site visit by solar supplier)
- Arrange for solar supplier to make site visits, advise on best system design for the premises and give quotes to the householder/business
- Sign agreements with householders/businesses who wish to accept the quote they have received
- Check outcomes – Inspect at least some of the in-progress or completed solar installations in person? Enable remote monitoring of solar performance so Council staff can check all solar installations are operating correctly?
Note: You won’t need to ‘reinvent the wheel’! Darebin City Council is happy to share the resources they have developed for their Solar Savers scheme, such as their legal agreement that solar recipients sign, FAQ, letter to householders, etc. You can use these as a starting point and tweak details to suit your own Council’s solar scheme.
Note for SA Councils
Current SAPN regulations state that if a premises has a small business account and a 3-phase electricity supply (most businesses have 3-phase) and they need a new meter (which they do when they install solar), then they will be automatically switched to a demand tariff rather than a regular tariff. This is likely to reduce the cost-effectiveness of installing solar, and in any case makes it much more complicated to calculate potential savings on electricity bills. We suggest you avoid this problem by restricting your solar program to householders and landlords, at least for your initial round of solar installations.