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South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant (SAVPP), which provides cheaper electricity to more than 4,000 residents, is about to get bigger.

Tesla is launching phase four of SAVPP, which will enable more South Australians on low incomes to share in the benefits of renewable energy.

An additional 3,000 South Australian households will benefit from low-cost electricity and the comfort of battery back-up. For the first time, the project will also include households within the community housing sector.

South Australia Minister for Energy and Mining, Tom Koutsantonis, said, “This is a prime example of the great work that can be achieved when industry and government work together. We’ve been proud to partner with Tesla on this project since inception, supported by seed funding from the State Government’s Renewable Technology Fund.

“It is incredible to see South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant continue to evolve, helping solve some of our most complex technical challenges in transitioning to a grid powered by renewable energy while proving its commercial viability as an investment-grade project.

“The South Australian Government looks forward to our continued relationship with Tesla on this and other exciting initiatives. Projects such as this allow South Australians in public and community housing to benefit from low-cost renewable energy, and is yet another example of this state leading the world in designing energy-smart homes and the smart grid of the future.”

The $33 million expansion, funded entirely by Tesla, will help thousands of low-income households – that had previously missed out due to their homes being unsuitable for rooftop solar – by offering a battery-only option.

The phase four announcement demonstrates that the pioneering decision in 2017 by the previous state government to invest in this program has delivered a successful result and continues to leave a legacy.

The rollout will support around 200 full-time jobs, including 70 apprentices.

As part of hosting SAVPP solar panels or batteries on their homes, public and community housing tenants get access to the cheapest retail electricity price in the state, currently 23 per cent below the Default Market Offer. This represents a $423 yearly saving for a typical household, according to electricity provider Energy Locals.

The Virtual Power Plant also benefits South Australians by providing important grid services that have previously only been provided by centralised, more traditional equipment.

Under the project, 4,100 households have already had solar and Tesla Powerwall systems installed – the next phase will bring the number up to over 7,000.

South Australia Minister for Human Services, Nat Cook, said, “The latest phase of the SAVPP means more public housing and now community housing residents will have access to technology they wouldn’t normally have, along with significantly cheaper power prices.

“We know people are really struggling due to the cost of living and the housing crisis and the government is working hard to relieve those pressures.

“It’s why we have announced measures to relieve housing stress in South Australia – releasing more land for housing, investing more than $230 million extra for new and improved public housing and stopping 580 public housing sales.

“This partnership is expected to lead to annual power savings of more than $400 a year on average – that’s significant and frees up cash for food, accommodation and other necessities.”

Murray Bridge resident Malcolm said, “I’ve saved $520 since I joined South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant in April last year and I’m happy that if there’s a blackout it keeps my lights on and helps those around me too.”

Berri resident Yvon said, “I joined South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant to save money and avoid blackouts. My monthly power bills are much less now and I’ve continued to have power when there were blackouts in my area. I’m very happy with the results.”

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