Residents of the Australian state of New South Wales are now able to buy a Haystacks Solar Garden “plot” to secure an estimated AUD 505 ($340) annual credit on their electricity bill, providing renters and apartment dwellers with a similar experience to having their own rooftop solar systems.
The 1.5 MW solar system will be located on farmland in Grong Grong, near Wagga Wagga. The project, which has been many years in the making, aims to give Australians a community-owned solar model, which is already common in Europe. The objective now is to secure 333 solar “gardeners” for each of the project’s plots, who will all be members of the Haystacks co-op. Once their one-off payments have been collected, the construction of the solar farm will begin.
With the help of partnering organizations, the co-op will build and own the solar project. Each member will then get the same return, in the form of a dollar amount off their electricity bill, from the sale of the energy generated on their plot.
Members do not pay for maintenance of the array. Instead, a small portion of the money generated from the sale of solar energy goes toward upkeep of the solar garden.
The Haystack’s solar garden plots will be on sale until Sept. 30, with the team behind the project holding information sessions throughout September.
“It’s an exciting model to be pioneering for Australia that other countries have been enjoying for years,” said Haystacks Solar Garden Project Manager Kim Mallee. “With the [government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese] committing to fund 85 solar gardens around the country, we’ll see many more households given the chance to access solar.”
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