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Families using solar power to battle rising electricity bills

5th Feb 2013

The towns of Albury and Wodonga are barely 15 kilometres apart, yet something peculiar happens when you start to look at their residents' power bills.

It seems that when it comes to electricity, it makes a difference whether you live in NSW or Victoria.

The Border Mail this week (February 4) compared identical power plans based on the average NSW household's energy use of 7,000 kilowatt hours a year and found that families in Albury pay up to 30 per cent more for the same electricity as their neighbours in Wodonga.

What's going on here? The Energy Retailers Association of Australia told the newspaper that the price difference had to do with Victoria's electricity market being deregulated.

Whereas NSW energy prices are set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, in Wodonga they are set by individual retailers and monitored by the Victorian Essential Services Commission.

Nick Brass from Energy Matters explained to the Border mail that it was common for rising electricity prices to lead consumers to consider solar power solutions.

This is evidence indeed that the affordability of solar panels has reached a point where they are a feasible option for households facing mounting utilities costs.

"We're finding that the majority of investors who are purchasing solar are not the high-end households, it's the ones who get hit by electricity bills," said Mr Brass.

The attraction of solar for households could soon be compounded by the increasing affordability of electricity storage, as noted by the Clean Energy Council this week.

"Household energy storage systems will also be much more common in the coming years as well, meaning families might say goodbye to electricity bills altogether by relying on their solar panels and batteries to power their homes day and night," said CEC strategic policy manager Tim Sonnreich in a statement released January 31.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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