Notes of Meeting on 9th October, 2018

We were pleased to welcome Bo from Unit 7 to our team at this meeting.  Bo’s professional expertise is in Finance and, as we have certainly arrived at the point where this has become our major preoccupation, his support will be very helpful.  Thus, the subject of project costs and methods of financing was the sole focus of this meeting.   In addition to bringing Bo up to speed on the project so far, the email we had received from James Pearce of ENM Solutions on 24th September was the subject of most of our discussion because in it he provided a breakdown of retail energy costs, network charges and market charges.

We made two major decisions about our approach from this point; first, we will limit our projections horizon to 10 years on the assumption that longer than this would be too far for the Owners to see relevance to their interests, and second, in the immediate term we will adopt a staged approach as follows.

Stage One will be limited to

  1. the installation of solar panels and microinverters to the whole of Block A providing 35 kW of generation capacity (although this size is significantly bigger than was recommended by Wattblock in their Feasibility Report we have decided that it makes sense to install the larger number of panels while we have the crane required on site);
  2. the replacement of the existing main switchboard to increase its capacity to 100 amp, adopting James’ suggestion of using the current cable from the substation and the current meter cabinet for sub switch boards;
  3. the replacement of the existing meters with Smart meters for all Units and the installation of a parent meter interface with the Grid.

The above would enable the establishment of our Embedded Network. Stage Two would involve the installation of a Battery in two or more years when they are projected to have dropped significantly in cost.  Stage Three would involve up-grading the main switch board to 200 amps to increase the Network capacity to provide electric vehicle charging when a demand has been demonstrated.

It has become our view that the upgrading of the Main Switchboard capacity and installation of Smart meters should properly be seen as a necessary capital expenditure for the Body Corporate since several of the tenderers noted that our current system is not compliant with current regulations.  Thus, we will recommend to the Annual General Meeting that the upgrade costs be incorporated into the Strata’s on-going capital expenditure budget.

We endeavoured to identify the range of potential project financing sources. These include:

  • Obviously, the most important is the Sydney City Council’s Demonstration Grant which we reckon will be between $20 and 80K.  Our new team member, Bo, sees this as crucial if it can be at the upper end.  [Stop Press.  At the time of writing an email has just been received saying that the Council officers have recommended that we be granted $25K – less than we had requested but still the highest of the four groups recommended for funding.  We expect the Council to endorse this recommendation at its meeting on 29th October.]
  • The second source could be a proportion of the Strata’s current Capital fund which stands at about $97K at present; certainly we would hope that this would be the source of the finance for the new Main Switch Board.  From our perspective, since this capital earns only a bit over 1% pa at present, putting a proportion of it toward the Embedded Network with its benefits amounting 5-10% makes good sense.
  • A third possible source of finance could be a modest levy on each Owner (in this regard, in a recent email James Pearce of ENM made the following point “Realistically for 18 owners an investment of approximately $4,000.00 each would be the same as all 18 owners putting their own 2.5 kW system on their roof (from a cost point of view)”.
  • Perhaps the least desirable possibility would be to borrow the capital and Luci’s investigations for the Council Grant Application revealed this cost to be 7% of the borrowing.
  • Further discussion led us to ponder the idea of asking the Owners to pay, say, the next four years of the capital component of their quarterly levy in advance.

Calculating and quantifying the potential benefits for Owners, over and above the environmental benefits, is extremely complex but critical to the case for introducing the embedded network.  In essence, we have to produce and advocate for a Business Case that justifies the introduction of a solar energy embedded network.  This case must identify potential savings, the payback period, cost estimates, our benefits measurement plan, and the implementation and impact plan.

Notes for Meeting on 13th September, 2018

The complexities, uncertainties and compromises that we face make it difficult to chart a clear path forward.  I have tried to address our challenges under three headings: operating policies that we need to clarify, decisions that we will have to make, and actions that we need to pursue over the coming three months or so.  The boundaries between these challenges are not clear because of overlaps but I hope this way of tackling the challenges helps.  The order in which they are listed below is not necessarily the best way to tackle them so please re-arrange as you see the best logic.  And, of course, add what you see I have missed.

Operating Policies

  • How will the network and system be owned?  By the owners as a collective or as a Strata Corporation?  Pro’s and cons of each?
  • Will charging be on the basis of individual usage or averaging?  How will we handle the disadvantage of this to ‘night time’ users?  How will we demonstrate before and after benefits?
  • How will billing, defaults, tenants’ access be handled?  How will Embedded Network costs be paid?

Decisions Required

  • What network size should we start with – 18Kw, <30Kw, 35Kw, 35Kw + Battery?
  • What switchboard size should we start with – current board, new 100 amp or 200 amp?
  • How do we finance establishment costs – levy on owners, out of capital fund, energy performance agreement, or energy lease, other?
  • What is a reasonable/feasible payback period to offer?
  • Whether to appoint an Embedded Network Manager or include in Strata Manager’s role?
  • Which contractor do we prefer, can we choose now and begin collaboration on preparing owners?

Things to be done

  • What are our goals/principles for the project now? Will we recommend a ‘stages’ approach?
  • How do we go about collecting current usage date that will enable subsequent analysis of before and after electricity costs?
  • How do we assess best form of financing?  Do we ask Bo from Unit 7 to join us?
  • How do we proceed vis a vis the Strata Executive on the Switchboard upgrade?
  • How do we scrutinise the two short-listed bids, make a choice, and identify aspects of potential negotiation for better prices?
  • When and how do we begin a process of engaging and educating our fellow owners?
  • Do we need to work toward a presentable Business Case?
  • Do we need to seek legal advice?  On what?
  • What do we want follow up with Wattblock?

Notes from the above meeting

Questions for follow up meeting with Wattblock

  1. Why was there such a big gap between the Feasibility Study costs and those from the Tender Responses?
  2. Why can’t we get the wholesale supply tariff figure?
  3. What is the Feed-in Tariff figure now and what is it likely to be in the future, particularly is it likely to go back up?
  4. Why don’t we have a financial analysis of various models – 18Kw and 35Kw?
  5. Is it feasible to establish a Network with a Gate meter to the grid + Smart meters for each unit with them simply continuing their separate supplier contracts?
  6. What is the maximum size of Kw installation that will ensure we are less than 30 for the purpose of out Grid connection.
  7. Are we sure about the extent of shading on Block A during winter?  Peter Steen has been monitoring it and reckons it is more extensive than allowed for in the Feasibility Study.

Other

  1. Need to explore with our regular electrical contractor (Mick) the possibility of connecting the Blocks – A>B>D, A>C with units then connected by cable between them to enable Solar behind the meter(?).
  2. We agreed that the network ownership should be by the Owners Corporation and the per KwH rate should be blended.
  3. If we have an ENM the Owners Corporation pays the grid supplier for gross usage and then bills each owner on the basis of their separate usage.
  4. To deal with tenancies, we will need a By-law which ensures that connection to our network is offered as part of the tenancy agreement and our rate must be better than the best market rate available. In the event of tenancy changes, the ENM would be informed thereby activating contact with the Letting Agent to ensure new tenant is informed they will be connected to our network unless they choose to opt out.
  5. In determining the Solar Panel installation size need to ensure that the maximum size after system inefficiency is <30Kw.
  6. We will recommend to the Owners Corporation (at the AGM?) that the current Main Switchboard be replaced with a 100 amp Board as part of our normal capital outlays.  We will eventually need to adopt a By-law that regulates the individual unit EV charging to 15 amps (should explore the possibility of an automated queueing system for charging from our network).
  7. With regards to financing of the Network our preference is the bulk, if not all, of the financing to come from the OC Capital fund, possibly augmented by an annual modest levy spread over, say, 5 years. We recognise that it is essential for us to show that the payback time will be less than 10 years as the realistic maximum acceptable time horizon. In order to limit the financial impact on owners we need to stage the introduction starting with New S/B + smart meters to establish the Network.  Once paid for then install Solar Panels, once paid for then install Battery.
  8. We agreed that it would be very helpful if we could persuade Bo, the owner of Unit 7, to join our team to provide the financial expertise we need if we are to create a viable offer for our fellow owners – Neil to ask him.

Next meeting

Tuesday 9th October from 2 pm.

Meeting at Sydney Council, 28th August

Neil and Alex met with Nik Midlam and Chris Barrett for the third time.

Neil’s reflections

It was Chris who, at our first meeting in May, 2017, went out of his way to warn us that what we were thinking of was likely to be a very difficult thing to pull off.  If we weren’t exactly intimidated then our enthusiasm was certainly somewhat tempered.  They started by providing a general indication of the situation with regard to the Demonstration Grants, to whit, that there will be significant competition for funding this time as there are more bids totalling more than the funds allocated in the budget. They also appeared to indicate that ours was a quality bid so would likely be supported but probably at a lower level than we were hoping.

It would be fair to say that at this meeting Chris delivered the same message, albeit in a more friendly almost benign, wise uncle kind of way.  Basically, his message was that what we have been considering is too costly and we need to start looking for less costly ways of delivering the emissions abatement/reduced reliance on coal-fired electricity that has fired our zeal. However, along the way he also gave us some very valuable advice.

First, that we should think seriously about keeping our Solar system provision below 30Kw  because there is a significant additional cost charged by Ausgrid (?Alex) for systems larger than 30Kw.

Second, he questioned whether we really need to replace our current switchboard if we lower our ambition to a more modest but better affordable installation.  In the same context, he also questioned the value of introducing smart meters.

Third, he said that to be cost-effective and feasible the benchmark figure we should aim for was $1500-$2000 total cost per Kw installed.  (?Alex)

Fourth, he suggested that aiming to be electric vehicle ready was at this stage premature because the initial extra cost would not deliver any benefit until we actually have a demand and that may still be some years away.

In summary, his advice was that we would have great difficulty getting our preferred project ambition through existing owners because the cost now would not be sufficiently balanced by benefit now.  To me, the impact of this advice was to lead me back to Wattblock’s Model 4 recommendation in their first Feasibility Study report that we start by limiting ourselves to just the minimal size of solar installation generating 18.2 Kw.

Nik also pointed out to us that there is a very strong chance that the Small Scale Certificate scheme will be phased out quite soon.  This would reduce the contribution to installation costs by about a third.

Alex’s reflections

The meeting was very valuable as it confirmed that the Council Officers value our work which is providing a very detailed case study of the opportunities and challenges posed by trying to implement renewable energy in Strata complexes. It was also useful in that the discussion suggested to me a way forward in the face of the financial challenges that Luci and I identified.

Our separate financial analyses identified a major funding gap even if we win the full $80,000 Council grant and the EC agree to fund separately the main distribution board upgrade. Chris’s rule of thumb of $1,500-$2,000 per kilowatt (or up to $2,500 if the main goal is environmental benefit) underlined that problem: we are at $5,000 or more per kilowatt at present.

We won’t be able to convince even the supportive owners to proceed unless we can significantly reduce that gap. There are two ways to do so: bring in more funding through other grants (although that would weaken the initiative’s value a# a demonstration project) or reduce the cost through careful cost pruning and/or descoping.

Also likely to affect the financial analysis to the detriment of the project are the mooted 25% reduction in electricity costs over the next 12 months and the possible removal of the Small Scale Certificate Scheme. They will lengthen the payback period by respectively reducing the savings that can be achieved and increasing the net capital cost.

I think that we need to meet to discuss the next steps as soon as the three of us in Sydney can get together. It seems to me that our strategy might include:

– revisiting our principles to be very clear about our goals and their priority (eg is a reduction in electricity bills more or less important than a reduction in carbon footprint?)

– identifying a small number of ways forward and what we have to do to achieve them. I would think three:

  1. The full project with 34-38 kw panels on Block A, MDB upgrade and batteries – what can we do to reduce the cost of that? Talk to Wattblock and suppliers, limit MDB upgrade to 100A (thereby limiting electric car charging potential), …. ?
  2. A three stage project with up to 30 kw  panels on Block A, minimal MDB upgrade and no batteries in stage 1 with  batteries to be implemented in stage 2 when prices come down and a further MDB upgrade and possibly more panels and batteries in stage 3 when justified by electric vehicle uptake.
  3. A multi stage project starting with 18 Kw panels on Block A and Block A meter upgrades to feed willing participants in Block A. That to be followed by the next willing block (probably Block D) then (I think) MDB upgrade and batteries followed by Blocks C and D (if there are sufficient willing participants). This strategy could be more affordable and would gain some immediate environmental benefits but would delay the full benefits and raises the question of who should pay for the various elements.

Regarding planning some information sessions with our community – I think we might start by further exploring their motivations for supporting the initiative, financial or environmental, and the amount they would be willing to pay to see the project realised.

Meeting to consider action while awaiting Council decision on the Grant

Alex, Luci and Neil met on 7th August to think through how to further inform our Owners, follow up with Wattblock and the short-listed tenderers, engage with the new Strata Managers, and take up the offer of further support from the local MP. Inevitably, we found that most of our discussions and, indeed, our concerns centred on the viability of the project, its financing, and the likely reaction of our owners to the long-term nature of the pay-off from the solar infrastructure asset.

What has emerged through the tender process is the hard reality that the costs incorporated in the responses are significantly higher than those on which the Feasibility Study was based. This has been outlined in a detailed Cost-Benefit Analysis carried out by Jacky of Wattblock. In it he has shown the key differences between their original estimates and the tendered quotes from our two short-listed contractors. Examples of some of the key differences include Embedded Network costs $27K higher while the full Solar+ Battery option is $56K higher. Explanations for the difference in the former centre on the need for major upgrade of the site Power-board and Distribution Boards which was not allowed for in the estimate. Explanations for the latter centre on the much higher cost of the German-made batteries because they have a life-span twice as long as the Tesla batteries included in the estimate.

While these explanations are reasonable and there is little doubt that the proposed network would provide a sound long-term investment for our Blackwattle Mews community, there is also little doubt that the larger amount required and the additional pay-back time will present a serious challenge and might dash our hopes. What we are now certainly faced with is the need to explore a range of financing options over and above the important Council Demonstration Grant.

One of the important issues that we need to work on with the Executive is the up-grade of the Power and Distribution Boards and installation of Smart Meters. Our view is that this capital expenditure should be treated as part of the normal Strata budget process, particularly as two of the tenderers stressed that the current Board is non-compliant with current regulations. Removing this significant cost from the project will assist us to build a more viable case for the Owners to make the embedded network investment.

In addition to meeting with the Executive, we decided that our next steps should include meeting again with the Council officers and Wattblock, chasing up ENM Solutions to find out what they have found with regard to Power-board costs, meeting with the new Blackwattle Strata Manager, Paul Culbi, and accepting the offer of further support from the local MP, Jamie Parker.

The challenge of drafting the Application for a Sydney Council Demonstration Grant

The Council Grants program is structured through a detailed on-line sequence of a long list questions with written answers to be inserted into boxes. Some of these appear to be repetitive and some are confusing but we were motivated to do the best job possible because the possible ‘reward’ of $80K might well make the difference to the viability of our project.

Alex and Paul were away for an extended period so the first stage of our grant application effort fell to Luci and Neil before the latter then also went away for a month leaving Luci to wrestle with the funding aspects of our submission and all the supporting documentation. On the former, we needed to estimate possible sources of funding apart from the possible Council grant that would cover the significant balance of the project costs. We decided that our presentation of these costs would be drawn from the most complete, whole system tender we had received. Luci also sought and received an in principle supporting letter from a potential financing arm of the Clean Energy Financing Corporation. Other supporting documentation was provided by the Strata Executive and the local State government MP.

The Council Grants and Environment teams offered to meet with us prior to our submitting our application and Luci represented us at it. He was gratified to find that the two officers were well-informed about our project and indicated that we had passed our Feasibility Acquittal with flying colours. The officers were concerned to ensure that at this point our project promised to have a strong chance of success and were pleased to hear of our commitment to engage with other strata in the future. Luci left the meeting encouraged that we have mounted a good case for getting the full Demonstration Grant.

This whole process took very many hours at the computer and on the phone. We are lucky that those of us who are actively engaged in supporting this project all have the time to contribute because the time demands have been extreme.

Reflections on where we are up to

It is 18 months since we initiated this project.  I think it would be fair to say that it has provided us in the Project Team with many more highs than lows.  I think when we started it seemed quite straight forward – we would install renewable energy and reduce emissions for the planet and electricity costs for us the owners of Blackwattle Mews.  Our early success in obtaining a grant from the Sydney Council to carry out the Feasibility Study and subsequent link with WattBlock was a huge boost to our confidence.

The possibilities revealed by the Study served to reinforce and expand our ambition as a team.  Now, we didn’t want to settle for just an Embedded Solar Network which reduced emissions and costs we wanted to future proof our Mews against the inevitable advent of Electric Vehicles, possibly even servicing public EV charging stations.  Just as Wattblock moved to our second stage of seeking tenders for the technical provision and management of an embedded network we met over breakfast with many of our fellow owners, answered lots of questions, and received strong support to proceed.

We were then challenged by the OC Executive to defend some of our claims and began to recognise how much more complex the project had become.  I think we met this challenge satisfactorily but it forced us, with Wattblock’s help, to focus more closely on both the detail of the technical installation and costs and, particularly, how this would all be financed.  It would be fair to say that this better prepared us for the examination of the eight tender responses.  Today’s meetings with our two shortlisted prospects have reinforced just how difficult it is going to be to eventually arrive at a persuasive case to present to the other owners.  Because we could be seen in a way as participant-researchers, we have come to see that, unless we collectively feel sure of what we are proposing, we just cannot mount a case to the other owners for the development.

This said, it is encouraging to know that everyone wants us to succeed.  Although we can’t yet be completely sure, probably most of our fellow owners are behind us.  Our consultants at Wattblock have been wonderful going way above and beyond their duty and what they are being paid for.  Even our potential network supplier/managers want to do what extra they can to help us pull it off, partly of course because it would be good for their future business, but also because they see it as being pioneering for Strata communities everywhere.  People in the sustainability movement, as represented by The Fifth Estate article, are keen, as is our local MP.  Hopefully, the environmental sustainability staff at the Sydney Council are also still behind us.

So, assuming we are able to get on top of the complex detail in the operation and financing of the initiative, we face the human challenge of finding attractive ways to inform and where necessary educate the decision-makers, the Blackwattle owners – we have to get both the figures and the participation processes right.  As I am now seeing this vital piece of the jigsaw, to a significant extent we face a kind of bi-polar balancing challenge: the dollar costs in the now against the potential savings in the longer term, the interests of the owner/occupier against those of the  owner/investor, the near present needs against the future needs electric vehicles will bring.

We have learnt a great deal.  Serendipitously we found that we have a diverse, capable and reasonably available team which has found ways of working together which have got the job done and provided enjoyment in working together.  This blog, our website, the regular up-dates and the face-to-face brekky meeting have kept our fellow residents informed; there will need to be much more of these. The sustainability goals and programs of the Sydney City Council have not just provided essential funding but their officers have been the source of helpful advice and encouragement.  The expertise of our consultants has guided and educated us and, to a certain extent, perhaps we have helped them to learn useful lessons that will further enhance their expertise.

Now we look forward to persuading, implementing, monitoring, reporting and advocating so that very many more Strata communities undertake their own journey.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s time to take the next, extremely important step of writing and submitting our application for a Demonstration Grant.

Meeting with our short-listed network suppliers, 18th June

Brent had arranged for us to meet on site with the Company A team at 10 am and then to hold a Skype call with Company B at 4 pm.  Brent and Jackie joined Luci and Neil at 9 am to help us prepare (Alex had gone interstate and Paul is overseas so our team is down to two); over the weekend Jackie had done a lot of work crunching the numbers on costs, rates, returns etc.  It would be fair to say that at this point we were feeling quite daunted at how to handle these interviews since there seem to be so many variables that we need to both understand and be reassured about.

Notwithstanding our anxiety, I thought our two hour meeting with the three Company A representatives was very valuable on both the technical and the network operation aspects.   Though by no means simple, the technical (solar panels, inverters, batteries, cabling, Powerboard, meters etc.) aspects seem comparatively simple.  It is the on-going operation and cost of the embedded network which will be the key to our success – assuming that at the start we make the correct technical decisions.  I felt confident that the Company A  guys were both well experienced and competent in their technical expertise and, being based in Sydney, they would be readily available to support us if needed.

Thus, it was that we ended up probing more closely Company A’s embedded network expert We made the point that our project was an important test case for the City of Sydney and, as such, was being closely observed witness last week’s The Fifth Estate article.  We were assured that this was well -understood and these potential suppliers were keen to be involved and would do us the best deal they could.  He undertook to get back to us with key rates figures.  He also said that he thought that the unexpected extra cost incurred in installing a new Powerboard was potentially one that could be improved form their initial estimate.

A brief note on the Powerboard issue.  Several of the tenderers noted that it would have to be replaced, first, because it was no longer compliant and, second, because an upgrade would be required to enable the operation of the new smart meters and the embedded network gate mater to the grid.  In other words, from the point of view of our solar project, this cost was one which should be seen as one the Owners Corporation had to cover irrespective of the embedded network.

While there is clearly still a way to go on bedding down the final figures in their offer, I felt encouraged by the quality of the Company A team.  We now had to go through a similar exploration with Company B, based interstate, and therefore to be interviewed by Skype.  This time we started with our outline of the context of our project before discussing panels, inverters and their warranty periods.  Perhaps inevitably, we spent only half the time with Company B that we had spent in the morning.  A key element in the future network is going to be the cents per kilowatt hour rate at the meter and Company B undertook to get back to us with his likely best figure on this.

I found it difficult to come to a definitive judgement between the two bidders.  As Luci says, there are so many interacting variables in play that the complexity can be more than somewhat overwhelming.  Nevertheless, we must find ways of getting on top of them in order to proceed.

It would be also worth noting that while we have selected two runner up companies to further engage with (both supplying a complete solution under a single umbrella), we also have as a backup another solution which would be implemented by two different suppliers, a third solution that we can fallback on if required.

Receipt and Analysis of Tender Responses

At last, late in the afternoon of the 6th June, the email from Brent at Wattblock arrived enclosing all of the tender bids for our project.  Now we had real data to inform us about our possibilities and challenges to come.  Bearing in mind that Wattblock had distributed out Request for Quote to 50 potential suppliers, in the end only 7 submitted bids and, of those, only 2 offered to provide the whole system we would need, including finance options.

When stacked up the reading required to sift through these bids was about two inches deep so there was a lot of reading.  Much of it was specification information about meters, solar panels, inverters and batteries, pretty mystifying to this correspondent but, hopefully, grist to the mill for Alex, our resident electrical engineer.  In general terms we could now see that the upfront costs of installing the embedded network, including the replacement of our Powerboard and meters ranged between $55K and $62K with an annual fee around $4K; the installation of solar panels ranged from $44K to $52K; and the battery between $74K and $108K.

The two offers covering the whole system were clearly more thoughtful and customised than the others and came from two medium-sized partnerships, one based interstate and the other a NSW/Vic combination.  Two others, both from subsidiaries of large electrical retailers, could have covered the whole system if combined which gave us a third point of comparison with regard to costs.

At this point we were encouraged by the officers at Sydney Council to apply for a Strata Community Environmental and Engagement Award which “recognises strata schemes that are working to reduce their impact on the environment by means of sustainability initiatives and projects”.  After a quick meeting another day was spent putting this submission together.

On Tuesday, 12th June, Alex, Luci and Neil headed to UNSW to meet our consultants and discuss the pro’s and con’s of what was on offer.  Jackie had prepared a very helpful summary table on which we based our discussion.  Right at the start Luci noted that one of the two whole system bidders was proposing a battery with a life of 20 years, twice what had previously been available.  This has the potential to change the economics of our development considerably.

About half the discussion focused on technical possibilities such as type and size of panels and batteries and half addressed the financing issues. Our thinking has modified about electric vehicles and charging stations partly due to the apparent lessening of interest in them by the Council and partly because of the additional cost required in the new Powerboard.  Part of the financing discussion considered our chances of success in receiving a Demonstration Grant from Sydney Council and what size that would be likely to be.  Our hopes in this regard have become much more modest which means the owners’ capital investment will be higher than we had initially anticipated.  This reality meant we were now much more interested in the availability of financing from our bidders and the terms being offered.

After a couple of hours we came to the conclusion that the two whole system bids, hereafter called Company A and Company B, were best value for us and Brent undertook to let them know that they were now on our short list.  He sought to arrange follow up meetings with them in the coming week.  At this point we were probably slightly favouring the NSW based bidder because of their ready availability if needed once our network was in operation.  We expect that after these meetings we will be in a position to settle on our preferred provider enabling us to fill out our network details.

Our next step is to prepare our bid for the Sydney Council Innovation Demonstration Grant which will need to incorporate three provider quotes.  Once this is done and submitted we will have to draft the motion seeking conditional support from our owners to be put to the Annual General Meeting on July 23rd.

Addendum to the above.  Over the next day or so Alex re-worked the figures he had produced after receipt of the Feasibility Study.  The result was sobering.  He concluded that The result isn’t encouraging. It looks like we could only afford the solar plus embedded network without batteries IF the OC undertakes the Powerboard replacement AND we get a $20K grant. There’s still a gap but I think that can be covered through some economies and better tariffs.  As Luci pointed out, the $4000 pa for the ENM soaks up a lot of our gains but I doubt that we could dispense with it, at least during the first year. One option might be to include it in the capital cost for year 1 and then exclude it.  But even with those changes, the full system looks unachievable especially if we can only get a $20K grant.”

I passed this on to Brent at Wattblock for his comment and the next day we had a long phone conversation in which he provided a different, much more positive perspective to Alex’s.  I then had a chat with Alex who was pleased to hear Brent’s view noting that his analysis should be reviewed by Wattblock because they have access to data he doesn’t have.  He and I then agreed that, in these circumstances, we would not be in a position to put anything to the Owners Corporation AGM on July 23rd but should instead wait until we know the outcome of our Demonstration Grant application to the Council.  I wrote to everyone outlining the above and concluded with “There is a good way to go yet but we are still in the game and a long way from surrender.”

Strata Community Environmental & Engagement Award

Strata Community Environmental & Engagement Award

BlackwattleSolar has entered a submission for the Strata Community Environmental & Engagement Award which recognises strata schemes that are working to reduce their impact on the environment by means of sustainability initiatives and projects and/or are utilising products and services that have positive environmental outcomes. We will post updates once we receive feedback for our submission.