Neighbours join to bring solar to community

Murray Griffin lives in a charming townhouse complex in Richmond where he and some neighbours recently installed individual solar systems.

As the chair of the owners corporation, Murray said the switch to solar began with a simple question to the residents.

“The journey to solar here started with a request which we sent out to people saying: ‘Are you interested in solar or not?’,” he said.

Eligible residents were also able to get a $1,400 solar panel rebate and equivalent interest-free loan. While the rebate requires each dwelling to have its own system, they were able to use the shared rooftop to install the solar panels.

“We invited all 18 owners to participate in a solar bulk buy and ten of the owners opted into the program,” he added.

Tia, one of the owner-occupiers who decided to take part, had wanted an opportunity to harness the power of clean energy. “I was really excited,” she said. “I put my hand up because I've always wanted to have solar panels … for the environment and also for the long-term savings.”

After the warm response from his neighbours Murray guided the owners through the process of installing solar.

“What we learned through the process was that the Solar Homes Program isn't just for houses, it's for all kinds of homes.”

In addition to learning about the solar (PV) rebate and interest-free loans, independent advice was also sought, including advice from the Yarra Energy Foundation – a council-funded body.

“This project … probably wouldn't have happened without their input because there was just a level of reassurance that this complex project we were undertaking was actually … feasible, doable and sensible.”

He added that another key part of the process was maintaining good communication with the strata manager at the block.

“Because you need somebody who can just guide you through the procedural side of things to make sure that you that you cross the ‘T’s and dot the ‘I’s to carry out the project properly.”

Tia was thrilled with the outcome and was proud of the community for coming together to make the installation a reality, and reducing their collective carbon footprint. She also notes how solar has helped to reduce her energy bills and added a valuable asset to the block, increasing its value and appeal to potential buyers or renters.

“I feel like we're on a mission together to make this building a better place to live for everyone here,” she said. “I just feel lucky that I’m part of this community.”

Tips for getting solar installed at multi-dwelling properties:

1. Keep in close contact with your strata manager for assistance on the process.

They will have a unique perspective on the property and what will be required to ensure it all runs smoothly.

2. Do your research.

Aside from the Solar Victoria buyers’ guides there are groups, including organisations you can find through your local council, who can help you through the process.

3. Check your eligibility.

To find out if you’re eligible for a solar panel rebate, check the criteria on this webpage. Solar rebates for addresses with multiple dwellings, like Murray and Tia’s block, require each dwelling to have its own system.

4. Get at least three quotes so you can compare different prices and approaches to installation.

Our article What to look for in a solar quote has information to help you better understand your options.

5. Keep in close contact with all members of the owners corporation and committee so they understand what’s going on.

As Murray says “You don’t need to bore them with every piece of detail about micro-inverters and so on, but you need to keep them up to date with what you’re planning to do.”

“Really, everything else will just fall into place! If you follow those steps; keep a high level of transparency; and put in place the standard measures that you would put in place as an owners corporation committee for a large scale project, regarding obtaining quotes and checking the credentials of the service providers that you intend to use.”

For more information or to begin your application, visit our solar panel (PV) rebates page .


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