South Australia’s Switch For Solar Program Expands

Switch for Solar - South Australia

SA’s Marshall Government has decided to expand its “Switch for Solar” program, which provides free solar installations for eligible low-income households.

The Switch for Solar initiative was announced in February last year and a trial kicked off in May 2021 involving 1,000 SA concession holder households in the Goolwa area and north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide. Qualifying participants choose to forego their energy concession and Cost of Living Concession (COLC) for 10 years in exchange for a free (or almost free) 4.4kW solar power system.

Yesterday, SA Deputy Premier Dan van Holst Pellekaan announced the program is to be expanded to 5,000 low income households in total across the state after the success of the pilot.

“Electricity bills of households already in the program have fallen by well over $1000 a year resulting in a net benefit of up to an average of $538 for these low-income households,” said Deputy Premier van Holst Pellekaan.

Up to an average? Either it’s an average or it isn’t – but anyway, the program appears to have worked out to be a pretty good deal for participants, assuming quality gear has been installed that lasts the distance. The $538 is the benefit over and above the foregone $215.10 per year Cost of Living Concession and $231.41 annual energy concession participants are experiencing after having solar systems installed.

Households aren’t locked into a 4.4kW solar power system – they can choose to have a bigger system installed and pay the difference. According to Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink, around 28 per cent of households so far have opted for a larger system. A battery can also be added, again at the participant’s own expense.

While system installations are free for the most part, there may be some cost involved where an installation isn’t “typical”, such as major switchboard upgrades or meter upgrades where one is required and an electricity retailer charges for this. Any additional costs will be discussed prior to installation and participants can choose to not proceed at that point.

Switch For Solar Eligibility Criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for the program, applicants must:

  • live in, and own, a detached or semi-detached house in South Australia
  • hold an eligible Centrelink or DVA card or receive an eligible payment
  • not already have a solar power system installed
  • consume more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually (and many households would)
  • currently receive the energy concession and Cost of Living Concession

Where one party receive the concessions but their partner is the homeowner, this is still eligible if both parties agree to all of the program requirements.

Registering Interest

For the initial trial, registering was a case of “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, but this time around concession holders have been invited to register their interest in the program. Those who are interested should probably do so soon in order to get to the “front of the queue” as the announcement puts it.

To register interest, go to www.sa.gov.au/switchforsolar and complete the form or call the Switch for Solar team at ConcessionsSA on (08) 8226 3100 during business hours.

It’s expected installations of systems under the expanded program will commence in August this year.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. George Kaplan says

    A 4.4 kW system is likely too small to be of use i.e. residents would still be paying both supply and usage charges. Perhaps community groups and churches with eligible members could organise small shortish term interest free loans in exchange for repayment via FiT bill credits?

    Yes this does assume credits are possible! It also assumes organisations are prepared to lose their loans should beneficiaries prove sadly dishonest.

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