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WA Greens want solar PV on all social housing

30th Jan 2013

Earlier in the month the WA Greens launched their new campaign ahead of March's election. Unfortunately, anyone hoping for some detail about their policies was left unsatisfied.

Presumably that would come later. They simply announced they would be running on a positive platform of True Progress and said they would be focussing on eight policy areas.

One of these areas was renewable energy, and Greens MLC Giz Watson, rather than elaborating, chose instead to create a bit of suspense.

She said in her statement on January 20 that her party would be releasing "some exciting plans for solar energy in WA" and added that many residents were struggling with spiralling utilities costs.

She also hinted that the Greens would be taking "real action on climate change".

Anyone hoping for more specifics had to wait until yesterday (January 29), when those plans were finally unveiled.

The Greens propose to install solar panels on nearly 30,000 social houses.

Under their plan, 1.5 kW solar systems would be installed on the roofs of every public and community housing dwelling in WA.

The Solar Powered Social Housing Initiative hopes to slash the electricity bills of some of the state's poorest families and pensioners.

The 1.5 kW solar panel systems will generate 6 kW a day or about a third of a household's daily needs. The Greens expect this will save the average family around $500 a year.

But that's not all of course. The scheme is also predicted to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 74,000 tonnes a year.

Housing spokesperson for the Greens Lynn MacLaren MLC said it would be relatively easy to implement the plan, which would take advantage of WA's "abundant supply of sunshine".

"We have around 22,000 public housing homes and apartments across WA and another nearly 8,000 community housing units," said Ms MacLaren in a statement.

"Their roofs could be used to assist householders in meeting rising utilities costs while at the same time reducing the state's growing carbon footprint."

The WA Greens calculate that the project would cost $68 million over three years, based on $2,000 a roof with an additional $276 per home for the installation of a smart meter.

In addition to the employment benefits and boost in capacity for the local solar power industry, the Greens hope that people will learn to use energy more efficiently.

If families have access to cheaper electricity when it is available in off peak times, maybe they just will.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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