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Western Australia has observed reduced energy costs for low income earners within six months of its Smart Energy for Social Housing trial. 

Public housing tenants have saved up to $200 each in trial, which is a part of the State Government’s Smart Energy for Social Housing plan, with a focus on renewable energy..

In July 2020, the State Government announced it would install $6 million worth of solar panels at 500 social housing properties as part of the Western Australia Recovery Plan’s $66.3 million renewable energy technologies package. 

The first ten properties, located in Clarkson, Gosnells, Balga, Ellenbrook, Rockingham and Girrawheen, had rooftop solar systems installed in December 2020, with participants reporting savings of between $30 and $200 since the pilot commenced. 

The Department of Communities worked with regional offices to identify suitable properties with three or more bedrooms for the pilot; 80 houses have now had systems installed. 

The program is being rolled out over four years by Synergy, on behalf of Energy Policy Western Australia, across the South West Interconnected System Western Australia’s main electricity grid.

Eligible public housing tenants will have a Synergy-owned and maintained rooftop solar system installed on their rental property and access to Synergy’s Future Communities Plan, which offers a discounted rate for electricity consumed during off-peak times (9am to 3pm). 

Western Australia Housing Minister, John Carey, said, “This is an innovative program with a great outcome for public housing tenants on low incomes who will benefit substantially from a reduction in their annual power bill and freeing-up of income for other essentials.

“The great thing is that tenants are also learning about how they can reduce their bills even further by shifting consumption to the off-peak time.”

Western Australia Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said, “It’s great to see the Smart Energy for Social Housing trial is proving successful with public housing tenants already benefiting from savings of up to $200.

“Synergy is also working with tenants to increase their savings by encouraging the use of major appliances, such as using the washing machine or dishwasher, during daylight hours.”

Synergy has commenced installing systems under the next phase of the program, with expansion to one and two-bedroom complexes, apartments and housing now under consideration. 

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