Skyrocketing power prices have massively increased demand for solar panels from Riverina businesses.
Energy retailers hiked their prices on July 1, sparking outrage not only from homeowners but also businesses and political lobby groups about the increases.
Origin Energy, echoing rivals like AGL and Energy Australia, blamed the hikes on rising wholesale electricity costs and claimed its prices were competitive.
However, businesses were looking elsewhere for relief from the price rises, leading to increased demand for solar panel installers.
Sachin Patel from the Uranquinty service station recently had solar panels installed in an attempt to offset the price rises.
“We thought it was better to move and not have to pay the higher rates,” Mr Patel said. “We haven’t had a bill yet, but hopefully we save a good amount.”
Lee Grant from The Solar Professionals said the combination of lowering solar panel prices and rising energy costs meant they were twice as busy as last year.
“Commercially, if a business is operating from 9am to 5pm they’re throwing money down the drain if they don’t go solar,” Mr Grant said.
“They’ll pay it back in two to three years now, regardless of whether their bills are $400 a quarter or $40,000.
“We do a lot of residential installs as well, but the bigger players are looking over the fence.”
NSW Business Chamber chief executive Stephen Cartwright said Australia needed to move into the new millennium on power.
“The latest Business Conditions Survey found that almost half of all businesses have been, or will be affected by recent and projected energy price rises and supply issues,” Mr Cartwright said.
Wagga Business Chamber manager Anabel Williams said business owners were feeling a double whammy.
“They’re not only facing the rise at home but at work as well,” Mrs Williams said.
“The big concerns of power prices and red tape are a definite worry, they’re hoping they don’t have to pass the costs on to customers but they can’t absorb it forever.”