Solar installer Steve Walker says his phone has been running hot since electricity prices have skyrocketed.
Solar installer Steve Walker says his phone has been running hot since electricity prices have skyrocketed. Craig Warhurst

Residents turn to solar energy

BUSINESS is good if you’re in solar energy.

Always Earth Solar Solutions owner Steve Walker said in the last week he had fielded at least 20 calls and had about four more inquiries into the renewable energy yesterday.

He said a combination of people worried about increasing electricity prices and a 20 per cent renewable energy deadline in 2012 was driving people to look for alternatives.

And that was a good thing, said the green power believer.

“I’d like to see a solar panel on every home on every street but it’s about money. The cost of living is always going up and up,” he said.

Mr Walker said a recent trade fair in Bangkok he attended opened his eyes to some of the amazing things that were happing in solar energy.

He said, pointing to a painted yellow line on the street, that one day they would power the street lights.

“Victoria is beating us in solar installations. We’ve got so much more sun to offer.

“While coal exports are leading trade, (solar) isn’t going to take over.”

Solar energy is the way to beat increasing electricity price rises, installer Steve Walker said.

He is working seven days a week installing solar for hot water systems and panels that connect into the power grid.

To save money, Mr Walker said people needed to be educated about their power use, get solar hot water and invest in a grid interactive system.

With a three kilowatt system about $500 can be saved every quarter, he said.

“The phones are ringing more every time the power bill comes in. Everyone’s power bill is going up,” he said.

He said the price per kilowatt of power had risen from 17.9 cents a kilowatt to more than 19 cents and when solar was hooked into the grid power companies were paying about 50 cents to home owners per kilowatt.

But solar isn’t within everyone’s reach he said, with families that have children really feeling the pinch even though rebates were on offer.

He said one family he had talked to had budgeted for solar before upgrading the family car to try and get on top of their bills before prices went up even more.

But with a three kilowatt system and the current rebate which fluctuates weekly, homeowners would be out of pocket about $9000.

“We’re trying to help people get onto it, while the rebate is still there.

“By 2012 you won’t be able to buy electric hot water systems anymore.”

In the three years Mr Walker has been installing solar panels he has almost 300 jobs on his books and said interest was generated by word of mouth.

“People who got in early are chuffed with what they are getting back, so people are talking about it.” His tips for saving power were turning off appliances at the wall and updating your hot water system if it was more than 20 years old.

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