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Gympie may have first postcode with 100% solar adoption

STEP FORWARD: Scott Ellison says the solar system he has installed at Drummond and Kindred will save $24,000 a year in power bills. Patrick Woods
STEP FORWARD: Scott Ellison says the solar system he has installed at Drummond and Kindred will save $24,000 a year in power bills. Patrick Woods Patrick Woods

GYMPIE'S Wide Bay region is leading the nation in revolt against big electricity cartels and the governments that back them, according to advocacy group Solar Citizens.

And residents of the Gympie postcode area are in with a chance to win the race to become the first community in Australia with a solar panel on every roof.

Solar Citizens says Gympie communities - from Imbil and Tuchekoi and from Bells Bridge, Miva and Sexton to Coondoo, Wallu and Wolvi - are among the national leaders.

The group claims 4673 Gympie district homes now draw free electricity from the sun.

Meanwhile, the region's solar power designers and installers say they are more than happy to be a part of the revolution.

Scott and Melinda Ellison of Gold City Solar say their recent 30kW installation at Gympie clothing firm Drummond and Kindred will save the firm $24,000 a year and will pay for itself in five years.

And Jeff Hogue of Gympie Solar Centre says householders with smaller 5kW systems can also more than halve their power bills, especially if combined with solar hot water systems.

Solar Citizens campaign manager Geoff Evans has accused Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle of misleading Queensland power consumers to help justify removal of solar power incentives.

National director Lindsay Soutar says big power companies are now trying to make solar homes pay higher fees to connect to the grid.

But we are allowing that sort of pressure to divert us, she said.

Ms Soutar says Queensland communities are showing the way on clean, green electricity, boasting nine of the top nation's top 12 solar powered communities.

Of those, three (including national leader, Bundaberg and No.3 Hervey Bay) are in Gympie's Wide Bay region.

Two - Caloundra and Buderim - are in the neighbouring Sunshine Coast area.

Other Queensland centres helping lead the way are Toowoomba, Ipswich, Nerang and Beenleigh.

Mr Ellison puts Gympie's enthusiastic take-up of the solar alternative down to a larger-than-average proportion of self-funded retirees, who may have invested a proportion of their superannuation in power systems, intended to pay them additional income later on.

"People looking at retiring will at least be keen to zero their power bill to make life easier," Mr Ellison said.

"There's definitely a take-up for economic reasons."

Ms Soutar agrees, saying areas with lower average incomes have led the way.

"Everyone wants to reduce their power bills, but Gympie and its neighbours are winning the race," she said.

"They are taking on solar because it gives them power over how much they pay.

"More than a million Australian households have done the same across the country.

"But the big power companies are trying to make it so much harder.

"They are making solar homes pay higher fees to connect to the grid paying less than full value for the power they put back into the network."

Mr Hogue says tighter times for subsidies mean people have to be more savvy and have properly designed systems.

Gympie Times

Topics:  gympie, solar power



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