WHEN Richard Lutze and Liz Bugden started a family three years ago their power bills almost doubled but soon halved again, thanks to the timely installation of a solar power panel.
The panel, funded by an $8000 Federal Government rebate, now saves them $1200 every year.
The couple have helped give Alstonville and other parts of the same postcode the second highest rate of solar power users in NSW with more than one in five homes harnessing the sun.
New figures from the Clean Energy Council show 21.2% of Alstonville, Rous and Meerschaum Vale residents have solar units installed on their roofs.
The NSW average is 8.5% and the national average is 9%.
"There's a lot of retirees and young families in Alstonville so that's the demographic that needs to save money," Ms Bugden said.
"It's just a shame that the government has taken away the (solar) rebate."
Ballina and Lennox Head came in at number eight on the top 10 NSW solar list with 17.3% of residents using solar power, while Brunswick Heads, Ocean Shores and Billinudgel placed ninth with a 16.6% take-up.
Dubbo is Australia's solar capital with 28 per cent of homes using solar power.
NSW claimed the leading solar postcode from Queensland's Caloundra region which topped the list last year.
The official figures come from the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator, a statutory authority established by the Federal Government.
Clean Energy Council acting chief executive Kane Thornton said coastal, regional and lower-income suburbs had embraced solar much more than inner-city areas. This suggested rising power bills were one of the main motivators to switch to solar.
"We have around 600,000 solar power systems in Australia. We are just in the early stages of tapping ... this technology."
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