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Social housing tenants are enjoying significant relief of up to $1000 off their home energy bills thanks to targeted NSW Government programs to install solar panels on properties throughout regional NSW.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey, said 689 Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) homes on the NSW Mid-North Coast and 272 Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) homes in the Riverina region would be upgraded with solar panels in the coming months.

This adds to the more than 5,000 regional social housing homes already upgraded with solar panels, delivering household savings of between $420 and $1,000 each year on energy bills.

“Our programs are making a real difference for Aboriginal and regional tenants, delivering free energy when the sun is shining and reducing financial stress for families by saving them up to $1,000 each year on their energy bills,” said Minister Pavey.

“Tenants also learn about best-practice power usage, meaning they can relax and feel more comfortable running appliances like air conditioners and fans over the hot summer months, without worrying about high energy bills.

“The delivery of these programs also supports regional employment and provides an important economic boost to regional economies as our communities continue to grapple with the ongoing impacts of drought, bushfire and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The $2.95 million AHO program is part of the NSW Government’s ongoing COVID-19 stimulus efforts, with panels fitted to 689 properties across 67 suburbs in Lismore, Grafton, Casino, Ballina, Goonellabah, Tweed Heads, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Raymond Terrace, Coffs Harbour, Toormina and surrounds.

LAHC’s program to retrofit panels to 220 homes in Wagga Wagga and 52 homes across the Federation, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Junee and Great Hume local government areas is part of a $26.8 million program jointly funded by the NSW Government’s Home Energy Action Program.

Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said rooftop solar is a great way of reducing energy bills while protecting the environment.

“The need to put downward pressure on energy prices has become more urgent, particularly because renters in existing public housing stock are over-represented among energy hardship customers,” Mr Kean said.

“Installing rooftop solar in public houses is one of the most effective ways to tackle energy bills. It’s also been an important way the NSW Government partnership with energy providers is leading by example to help move NSW to net zero emissions by 2050.” 

AGL Chief Customer Officer, Christine Corbett said AGL is proud to co-fund and partner with the NSW Government to support this important initiative which is playing a critical role in helping low income households have access to affordable and reliable energy.

“We are committed to ensuring Australia’s energy future provides affordable and reliable power to our customers – delivered from renewable sources and backed by flexible energy storage technologies, all of which come together to power our homes and businesses,” Ms Corbett said.

The NSW Government has also completed an Australian-first installation of new pre-fabricated roof-top solar photo voltaic technology, known as Solpods, across 15 regional government office buildings, expected to save taxpayers over $325,000 a year in energy bills.

Across the 15 government sites, the technology is generating 1,370 MWh of renewable electricity, resulting in an estimated annual emission reduction of 1,098 tonnes of CO2. This is the equivalent of eliminating the emissions of a 20,000m2, multi-storey office building per year.