SOLAR SAVER: Kevin Toohill had solar panels installed as part of Origin Energy’s solar scheme. There are no up-front costs and he expects to save $400 per bill.
SOLAR SAVER: Kevin Toohill had solar panels installed as part of Origin Energy’s solar scheme. There are no up-front costs and he expects to save $400 per bill. Francis Witsenhuysen

Kevin saves big, pays nothing with solar power deal

EVER think it would be a good idea to put solar panels on your roof, then realised how much it costs?

Until recently, Laidley resident Kevin Toohill was one of those people.

With door-to-door salesmen quoting into the tens of thousands of dollars for a 5kw system, Mr Toohill had all but given up on the idea of reining in his power bills; until he found out that there was a way of getting around the initial outlay.

"People have been trying to sell us solar panels for years," Mr Toohill said.

"My wife and I are what you would call elderly now, and we could never see a way of being able to afford it, even though our power bills are through the roof."

The Toohills run a farm as well as owning and maintaining a swimming pool, which together requires the use of several energy-sapping pumps.

While it makes their power usage quite high, it also makes them prime candidates for a new scheme by one of the state's major power suppliers.

On Monday, the Toohills had 20 solar panels fitted to their roof and hooked up to the grid - and they paid absolutely nothing.

While those panels will remain the property of Origin Energy, the power they harness will help the Toohills save hundreds of dollars on their quarterly bill.

The Toohills have become one of the first customers to take on Origin's Solar as a Service scheme, in which the customer benefits from solar panels that are installed, owned and maintained by the electricity supplier for between seven and 15 years.

"You only produce power while the sun's out; you won't benefit if you use all your power at night," Mr Toohill said.

"The power you don't use goes back into the grid and we get a discount for that.

"I'm hoping to save about $400 per bill."

Under the agreement, customers are offered power at a lower rate than their average electricity rate.

Solar energy not used by the customer is sent back into the grid. Origin solar manager Philip Mackey said the more the customer used during daylight hours, the more they stood to benefit.

"Households will benefit most from their solar system by using as much of their solar generation as they can during the day to offset the amount of energy that they need to purchase and use from the grid," he said.

"In general, Solar as a Service will suit households with daily power usage in excess of 20kWh hours per day with a significant part of this usage occurring during daylight hours.

"As a guide, customers who use at least 7kWh of their daily electricity demand during daily hours would be most suitable."

Solar as a Service is available to people who live within 100km of Brisbane.

There are other eligibility criteria. For more information contact Origin.



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