Meeting with Sydney Council Officers, 23/01/19

We met with Nik, Melinda and Chris to discuss the Grant Contract procedure and to provide them with details of our plans and the recent past in our process.  Both Melinda, whose responsibility is in the area of Residential renewables, and Chris, who has been a source of consistent cautioning advice, were particularly interested in our Embedded Network Management decision process and how we had identified the likely selection.  Chris cautioned us to be careful about our ENM fee beyond our agreed first year term.  If we decide to continue with an ENM we should endeavour to ensure that subsequent years’ fee increases are based on cost-of-living rises.

We discussed some of the issues involved in dealing with Ausgrid and the Officers offered to arrange a meeting with Craig from Ausgrid together with our ENM when we are at the pre-lodgement point of being ready to switch over.  Our plans must describe exactly what we will be doing to avoid delays from Ausgrid.

Luci raised the issue of the potential loss of 10% of our Grant due to GST.  This was an issue that the Officers had not previously had to consider and they undertook to investigate whether it is possible for the Grant to cover the GST cost on our payments to the network supplier.  Once this issue is resolved we will need to sign and seal the new contract with the Sydney Council.

We established that our Strata will need to invoice the Council via our Strata Manager for the $25K grant.

Moving into implementation of BlackwattleSolar

On 15 January, Neil, Luci, Paul and Alex visited one of the tenderers to examine the proposed solar panels and inverters and to refine the project scope. We had a briefing on a wide range of panels and inverters with advice on selection criteria to optimise the installation for BlackwattleSolar. We also explored contractual issues and were advised that we could get 25 year warranties on both panels and inverter.

The next steps are to finalise the tender, negotiate and sign the contract and pay a 20% deposit. In parallel, we will meet with City of Sydney officers on Wednesday 23 January to discuss the contract for the City’s grant of $25,000. We aim to do both in time to report to the next meeting of the Strata Committee on Monday 5 February.

As discussed at the EGM, we then need to move quickly to select the Embedded Network Manager and so are looking to set up a briefing and opportunity to endorse for all residents (resident owners and tenants) later in that first week in February. 85% need to support the ENM appointment for the project to proceed but each can still opt out if they decide not to buy cheaper electricity via BlackwattleSolar.

Team Meeting, 8th January

Our next important step is to meet with SolarPro and James and we decided to propose Tuesday next week.  Our goal in this meeting will be to review their original tender proposal in detail and agree on the specifics to be embodied in our Contract with them.  We will also seek to have them provide implementation documentation including things such as supply requirements and operating requirements.  We must establish the legal basis for the BlackwattleSolar Billing Contracts.

In order to manage the implementation process soundly we will aim to set up a separate fund in the Strata accounts at Jamesons.  Alex will liaise with our Treasurer to develop an agreed system for receiving and expending funds.  We need to establish that we still have approximately $3K of unexpended funds from the first Council Grant.  We also need to ascertain from our Strata Manager what insurance arrangements we need to make to cover the possibility of storm damage to the solar panels.

Paul was to contact Nik at the Council to arrange for the signing of our contract with them.  Luci was to contact Cathy at the Council to see whether our Grant monies could be paid direct to SolarPro so we would avoid losing 10% to GST. Her reply indicated that this would not be possible.

Luci agreed to prepare a protocol that would be followed if at a future point the Embedded Network became financially non-viable due to opt-outs.