Based on his Stucco experience Bjorn suggested to us that we initially aim to limit our system to solar collection and delivery to our units, probably in a 9 unit or fewer structure to avoid being treated as a Registrable Applicant by the AER. This will still require that we seek approval to have a D2 Deemed retail license to sell electricity. Thus, the Strata would own all the meters and bill the connected units/consumers. Every couple of years the Strata might then go to the market to seek bids for cheaper electricity provision. [I’m not sure that I have got this right]. This would mean leaving the Battery Storage phase until later after we have refined our collection and charging system.
To prepare for this we need to collect data about current electricity usage over the past 12 months from each of the households so we can establish our ‘before’ costs across the complex. We also need to commission a contractor to examine our roof spaces and what they could generate given different degrees of access to the sun over the four seasons.
Our next steps
- Obtaining the household electricity bills. At this stage we think most if not all owners will be likely to assist with this data collection. There may be only one owner whose property is an investment and he retains an active interest in the Strata.
- Bjorn stressed that most of the emissions reduction in Australia over the past couple of decades has been due to much increased efficiency of energy usage rather than the advent of renewables. This, logically, raises the potential for our households to benefit from reduced waste and/or greater efficiency of usage. Therefore, we agreed we should offer to undertake an energy audit for each unit.
- We need to choose a Contractor to undertake the analysis of our rooftop solar collection potential. The staff at the SCC are likely to be able to suggest possible contractors from which we could seek quotes. Bjorn thought that Energy Smart Strata could be a possibility and that Green Strata are very good on legal and regulatory issues. It could also be worth contacting Ausgrid to see what their intentions might be given the research they have been doing on community attitudes to future energy possibilities.
We can pursue all of the above while we are awaiting the outcome of our Innovation Grant Application to SCC.
Post workshop note from Bjorn
My notes from our discussion on next steps were:
1) Get bills (great/crucial engagement opportunity).
2) Do energy efficiency audit – possibly DIY by members with interest in teaching themselves the basics (another great/crucial engagement opportunity).
3) Decide on how tackle embedded network issue. (My advice remains looking at non-embedded network solutions, favouring engineering challenges/solutions to regulatory ones!)
4) Decide on engineering solution for solar system.
Lastly, I had an interesting surprise visit from a law lecturer from the ANU today who suggested that one really needs to prepare a rule change proposal to the AEMC to take down the barriers for exactly the regulatory barriers we discussed this morning. I’m not holding my breath, but it’s encouraging to hear that legal types are engaging with these challenges.