Sunnier times as IGA goes solar for no outlay

A SOLAR power company looking for new markets is giving its panels away.

The approach by Hire solar, a Wangaratta-based company, has developed from recognition the housing market has slipped from the highs of a few years ago.

Pete Miller, who owns the business with Tomas Kucera, said yesterday: “There’s been a turn in the tide with current feed-in tariffs and the residential side has really died off.”

That has meant a switch to commercial installations, though with a twist that Mr Miller said was an Australian first.

Hire Solar approached Chiltern IGA co-owner Don Alchin with an offer to give his business a free photovoltaic solar system.

With an expected life of well over 30 years, the 15 kilowatt, 60-panel system installed this week at the supermarket will produce benefits for both parties.

The agreement means that all equipment, installation and maintenance costs will be recouped by Hire Solar from the power produced by the panels.

Mr Alchin said he was happy to take part in order to reduce the carbon footprint of his business, though he had nothing to gain personally from the deal.

“I thought that if we could help the environment and help Chiltern then I was only too pleased to go into it,” he said.

“I’ve installed solar in one of my houses and I believe it’s the way we’ve got to go.

“I’d like to encourage other property owners to give thought to what they can do to help the environment.”

While Mr Alchin and his business partner own their freehold, Mr Miller said more than 90 per cent of businesses did not.

“That means they don’t want that big capital outlay — that was the real road block,” he said.

Mr Miller said out of that came the idea to install the equipment and then share in the savings with the business.

“The business gets up to 40 per cent of those savings,” he said.

Mr Miller said that was determined by factors such as the cost of electricity and where the business was located.

“We make them an offer and for zero capital outlay, between 20 and 40 per cent of their power they get for free,” he said.

“They’re getting that directly from their roof instead of their power company.”

Mr Miller said the incentive for landlords was that they would eventually take over ownership of the panels.

While the Chiltern IGA was the first off the rank, other deals were lined up, he said.