Don't knock solar it works
THE CHRONICLE’S front page story yesterday on a solar energy makeover that didn’t work for an Aldershot couple stirred up a storm with representatives of the local solar power industry.
Among those who rang was retiree John Parsons of Urraween, a man who was a pioneer of the solar power industry more than 30 years ago.
During his time in the industry John was constantly bombarded with questions from sceptics.
“You can imagine in 1980 when people were being asked to pay big money for something that we were going to stick on their roof that looked awfully strange,” he said.
“Since then solar power has proved its worth and quite frankly I would never be without it.
“When I first moved to Urraween I spent $4500 installing a solar-powered hot water service and six solar panels.
“Now I save on average more than $700 a year on our power bill and I can tell you we don’t live like hermits with everything switched off.”
His wife Trudie backed that up by saying that through summer they had their air-conditioner on all the time.
Mr Parsons believes the Aldershot family’s solar dilemma has occurred because they haven’t adapted themselves or their home to solar power.
“It’s like fitting a new V8 to a car and then not putting any petrol in it,” he said.
“You have to use the cheap power you have created at the right times and that can be as simple as vacuuming your home and doing your washing after 4pm instead of in the middle of the day.
I get paid 45 cents a kilowatt by Ergon for the power I create with my panels and I can buy this back from them at the right time of the day for just 15 cents.
“It means if I am smart I have to be ahead.”
The Parsons’ quarterly electricity bills for the past 12 months revealed their total payment for 2009 was $406.
This compared to $1107 the year before when they didn’t have solar power in operation.
“I realise it’s going to take me almost six-and-a-half years to get my initial outlay back but that suits me fine because after that it will be clear profit,” he said.
“It also protects me from future electricity rate rises which I know are just around the corner.”
The Chronicle has organised for a solar energy expert to undertake an energy audit at the home of Aldershot’s Lynne and John Edwell, the couple featured on yesterday’s front page.
Hopefully the audit will reveal just why the couple has received hardly any benefit after spending $6000 on the latest solar power systems.