by Gareth Hughes
The path to something great often starts with something simple. In the case of solar, it’s two basic questions -–do I have a roof? Does it get decent sun?
If you answered yes to both, you’re already on your way to cheaper, cleaner power.
And that is what the Greens want for all New Zealanders, and what our new Solar Homes policy is about.
Launched yesterday to much acclaim, Solar Homes offers low-cost Government loans to households so they can install solar PV on their roofs, tap into abundant green power and generate their own electricity. I repeat – low cost Government loans, which households pay back (the National Party has called the scheme a subsidy. It’s not). This is deeply ironic given National is bending over backwards for the oil industry with $45m in tax breaks this financial year and $25m in seismic survey subsidies paid by the taxpayer.
People’s monthly power bills are too high and climbing. Solar Homes is about breaking free from the big energy companies and taking the power back.
An average solar PV system will leave a household $100 better off a year (producing $1000 of electricity at current prices, but only costing $900 to pay off over 15 years). And after the loan’s paid back, the system will continue to produce free electricity for the lifetime of the panels
The initial installation costs about $10,000. Any excess power generated can be sold back to the grid.
The loans will be repaid through rates and attach to the house, so people can invest without the concern they’ll lose that investment if they move house.
Solar makes sense – in fact some of the stories are remarkable. The Hughes family in Nelson put in solar PV last year and recently received a monthly power bill of $1.80. That’s cheaper than a litre of milk.
Many New Zealand homes are exposed annually to 20-30 times more energy from the sun than they actually use in electricity or gas. Most of this is going to waste. By harnessing it instead we can reduce emissions, create local green jobs and achieve energy independence. And all from the starting point of a sunny roof….
To watch Green Party co-leader Russel Normal launching the policy yesterday, go to: http://new.livestream.com/nzgreens/events/2766975
To read more about the policy go to: greens.org.nz/solarhomes