The WA Greens have unveiled a $68 million plan to install solar PV panels on all public housing homes, in what could be an interesting test of the ability of solar to gain traction as an election issue.
The plan announced by Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren would involve installing a 1.5kW solar PV system on the roof of public housing homes and apartments, and on another 8,000 community housing units.
It is estimated to cost around $68 million, but the Greens say it could reduce the cost of electricity for pensioners and disadvantaged families by an average of $500 a year.
Environmental and solar groups have been seeking to turn solar PV into an election issue. Last year, the Solar Energy Council released a report on how solar could impact on marginal electorates, and RenewEconomy published similar research in WA Federal seats, and its musings on how solar leasing could be used to Labor’s advantage – Zero-cost solar: Will this be Gillard’s secret election weapon – was one of the most read articles of 2012.
MacLaren says the Greens scheme would reduce emissions by 74,000 tonnes a year and provide a boost to the bottom line of thousands of pensioners, as well as a lift to the WA solar industry.
“It is a win, win, win situation,” she said in a statement. “We have calculated that the cost of the project would be $68 million spread over three years. The cost is based on $2000 a roof plus around $276 a home for a smart meter.
“WA has an abundant supply of sunshine so why don’t we make use of the thousands of hectares of roof space on public and community housing to benefit the people who live in these homes and to bring down WA’s carbon emissions.”
The WA Greens have four seats in the 36-seat upper house of the WA parliament, and are seeking to reclaim the seat of Fremantle in the lower house. Most polls point to the conservative government retaining power, but some suggest it may be closer than the polls suggest.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.