WITH TEMPERATURES SET TO soar above 40 degrees today, Melbourne councils are helping vulnerable residents to beat the heat with solar power.
The Solar Savers program, originally developed by City of Darebin council, helps pensioners to install solar systems with no upfront cost.
Twenty-five councils across Victoria have joined the scheme, including Cities Power Partnership councils Bayside, Hepburn Shire and City of Monash.
Climate Council energy expert Petra Stock says that programs that help low-income residents to get on board with solar power could potentially save lives.
“Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural hazard, with the elderly, vulnerable and very young particularly at risk. Soaring power bills mean that many low-income people are unable to effectively cool their homes, putting them in increased danger during extreme heat days,” she said.
“Support from councils to install solar power could literally be a lifesaver for many Melbourne residents. People in energy poverty who were previously afraid to switch on the air-conditioner can now afford to effectively cool their homes.”
“With a recent Climate Council report showing that we’re experiencing more summer scorchers as a result of climate change, it’s vital that local governments take action to protect their most vulnerable residents.”
The Solar Savers program is available to residents in participating local governments areas who own their home and hold a Government aged or disability pension card.
So far the program has helped thousands of residents to install home solar systems.
City of Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said that Solar Savers has been a runaway success with pensioners. “The Solar Savers program has helped over 2,000 Darebin homes to install solar, and we’re looking to help even more in the coming year by opening the program to all residents,” she said.
“Solar power is ideal for pensioners, as they often own their own homes and are interested in energy and money saving. Through Solar Savers we’re protecting them from the extreme heat we’re seeing as a result of climate change, while helping them to save with cheap, clean and reliable solar energy.”
Similar programs are cropping up across Victoria. The Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership program, which connects councils working on clean energy, has supported tiny North East Victoria shire Strathbogie to take its groundbreaking solar bulk buy program to six other rural and regional towns, with more expected to come on board.
For more information contact Fiona Ivits, Cities Power Partnership media advisor, on 0432 368 714 or [email protected]