John Chamberlain of Mullumbimby has faced frustrating delays in getting his $33,000 solar system set-up.
John Chamberlain of Mullumbimby has faced frustrating delays in getting his $33,000 solar system set-up. Jay Cronan

Energy-sapping delay now solved

A LITTLE ray of sunshine brightened John Chamberlain’s day yesterday, courtesy of The Northern Star.

The Mullumbimby farmer has been struggling for months with what he experienced as frustrating bureaucracy at Country Energy about his attempts to get a solar energy system connected.

Mr Chamberlain gained approval process last year to have a ‘net metered’ system installed, which set him back $33,000.

When it came to the final connection, he was offered the option of fitting a gross meter, which would allow him to take advantage of the 60c per kW solar bonus.

Wiring costs of up to $10,000 made the option impractical, and he chose to continue with the net scheme.

To his surprise, he was informed by Country Energy that he could no longer pursue this option, and has been sitting looking at an expensive white elephant on his roof ever since.

When Mr Chamberlain contacted The Star yesterday, we raised the matter with Country Energy’s regional general manager Richard Wake.

He spoke to Mr Chamberlain, and conceded that Country Energy’s staff had become confused by the complexity of the case, and had given the wrong advice.

Country Energy will install a net meter on Mr Chamberlain’s property within days, Mr Wake said – at no cost.

It’s a good news electricity story in a week in which consumers have a right to feel gloomy.

Facing a hike in charges of 64 per cent in the next three years, more and more people are considering solar, according to Sunbeam Solar’s Syd Welling.

The price rises will cost most customers an extra $754 to $918 a year. For the average small business it will mean an additional $3070 a year.

The NSW Business Chamber blamed the price rises on bad management. “The State Government stripped dividends from electricity companies and under-invested in poles and wires,” policy director Paul Orton said

Cut your bill

Lower the temperature on your hot water system in summer.

Keep cool with ceiling fans.

Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient globes.

Upgrade your fridge.

Use your dishwasher when full.

Dry clothes on the line.

Turn off appliances at the wall.



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