Preparing for the Breakfast Briefing of the Blackwattle residents.
The team met again on the 4th April to plan the breakfast briefing and to consider what we needed to follow up with the Consultants. At this meeting Luci voiced his shift to a much more ambitious approach as he thought we should install solar panels to fill the unshaded roof of Blocks A and C. The rest of us very quickly agreed that, notwithstanding the Consultants’ recommendation to stick with Model 4 (solar panels and embedded network only), we wanted to get the Strata set up with battery storage and sufficient solar collection to be future-proofed for electric vehicles and against increasing power costs. We decided to ask the Consultants to prepare a further analysis of what became a Model 6 – panels + battery(ies) + EV ready + public EV charger.
We decided to invite the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore (see Appendix 3), the Federal Member, Tanya Plibersek and the State member, Jamie Parker to the breakfast. Neil was also to contact the local newspaper, the Inner West Courier. Luci undertook to investigate having a BlackwattleSolar banner, tee shirts and caps made up. This was done and they were enthusiastically received on the breakfast morning. The Mayor and the Federal member apologised due to prior commitments but the State member accepted and joined us briefly.
We had emailed owners twice and asked for RSVP’s. Slowly they came in so that we had had replies from everyone by the time the big morning arrived.
Meeting to brief Strata Executive Committee on 4th April
All five of the Executive Committee were present (me, Peter, Barry, and Victoria with Geoff on Conference phone). The meeting was difficult but useful as they raised a number of tricky questions and I wished I had our collective wits to handle them. Their questions started with Geoff’s which was will he be able to do better with BlackwattleSolar than the 32% discount that AGL has just offered him on a 12 month contract to stop him from changing providers. In discussing this point that Luci has already raised we concluded that the discount figure probably only covered Geoff’s usage whereas our negotiated discount would also cover grid connection fees, etc. All of this made me realise that I need to be much clearer about the precise benefits for individual consumers (particularly including tenants), the owners (including improved capital value of their property), the Strata as a body, and the planet through reduced emissions.
Geoff went on to observe that, if we pursue the new ‘Proposed’ model there would be a $90K shortfall even with the best case grant of $80K from SCC meaning each owner would be looking at a levy of $5K to cover the cost. This led us to discover the difference between the figures that we have in the FAQ sheet and those in the new supplementary report from WattBlock. In fact, all three of our costings are way over those in the report, e.g., $74K c.f. 47, $160K c.f. 95, and $187K c.f. 150. This renders our 50 copies of the FAQ in need of amendment unless the higher figures include something I couldn’t recall. I didn’t attempt to argue for a substantial dip into our current Sinking Fund but I have checked and it stands at about $95K. Wrt our intended bid for a Demonstration Grant, Geoff wanted us to check with our Consultants as to the likely strength of our bid. I suggested that our understanding was that the Council are very keen to see much more action toward renewables from Strata bodies and, since we appear to be the first cab off the rank in this regard we have a pretty strong case. I read the Innovations section of Alex’s draft of our submission and they were suitably impressed.
They were questioning of the role and/or need for an Embedded Network Manager and wanted to know how much it would cost and why we or our Strata manager couldn’t carry out this role. I wasn’t sure whether part of the justification was due to a regulatory requirement; they couldn’t see why handling billing and customer management could be worthy of a separate role and associated cost. Peter even went so far as to suggest that there could be sufficient gain simply from an embedded network so that the solar component wouldn’t add enough gain to justify the cost. This of course ignores the value created by emissions reduction.
Victoria, who works during daylight hours wanted to know how we could ensure that she received some of the benefit from solar when she uses electricity in the evening. This raised the question of what process we would use to fairly distribute the savings generated by our network.
I concluded that the meeting was valuable for them as they were much more aware of the aspects to which they need to pay attention and for us as it exposed my own limitations in answering likely questions.