The new joint venture plans to offer more services – particularly environmentally-friendly battery power storage systems – and is even looking at opening up interstate.
Country Solar is now leading the renewables revolution – other Territory solar installation and maintenance companies have long looked up to the Darwin-based business as setting the benchmark for quality work and good after-sales service.
Managing director Jeremy Hunt says: “I’m flattered that the company has such a good reputation that it can win national joint venture partners.
“The new investment gives us great potential for growth. This is a very competitive industry but we’re ready to go to the next level in business. We’ve transitioned from being electrical contractors to being more of an engineering firm. And part of that transition is providing battery storage systems, which are in increasing demand, and internet connectivity, so homeowners and businesses can control how much electricity they use.”
All warranties for existing customers will be honoured by the remodelled company.
Country Solar NT, which is celebrating its 10th year in 2020, has never claimed to be the cheapest solar installation and maintenance company in the Territory – just the best.
It uses only first-class equipment, which not only lasts longer but saves more power.
Mr Hunt, who is a qualified electrician, says the days of cheap electricity are long over, which makes solar-generated power more economical than ever.
“Country Solar can provide great energy efficiency.”
The average NT householder can save $2500 a year by using electricity powered by the sun, which means a solar system pays for itself within three or four years – and everything after that is a clear saving.
Savings for businesses can be much higher; some companies are saving hundreds of dollars a week.
“We live in a part of Australia where the sun shines strongest and we enjoy some of Australia’s most generous government incentives and concessions for switching to renewable solar,” says Mr Hunt.
Territorians save far more with solar systems than southerners – in fact, rooftop solar installed in residential properties and businesses by Country Solar over the past decade have saved customers a total of millions of dollars a year.
For householders, this is partly due to the fact that the NT has Australia’s most generous feed-in tariff regime – the scheme under which utility providers buy the surplus power your system generates to be fed into the grid for sale to other consumers.
The tariff is known as FIT – and in the Territory it’s “1 for 1”, meaning our electricity provider, the Power and Water Corporation, will pay the same price for any surplus power you feed in to the grid as they charge for any base rate power they sell you.
“That’s a great deal because solar systems in the NT typically produce more kilowatt hours of electricity a day than equivalent systems anywhere else in Australia,” says Mr Hunt.
“You use some or all of the free units of power from your system directly, saving the money you would have had to pay if that power had come from the grid. If there is more power than you can use, then the magic of the system we set up for you will pump it into the grid and you get an automatic credit from Power and Water. When you draw from the grid at night, or at any other time the sun doesn’t shine, your accrued credit will be offset against your bill unit-for-unit, meaning a proportion of your power from the grid is also free.”
The NT’s base retail rate for domestic grid electricity is 29.95 cents a unit; it’s only 7-16 cents down south.
“No wonder they feel a little peeved.”
Businesses and organisations with bigger commercial rooftop solar systems can save tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Country Solar NT is regularly being contracted to design and install commercial systems from 30kW to 800kW capacity.
“Technical issues mean Territory businesses or industries are not permitted to feed-in power to the grid from bigger solar systems,” says Mr Hunt.
“But it doesn’t matter because they typically use all the daylight power they produce anyway. They still achieve their big savings because using their own power means they are not paying day-time peak rates for grid electricity. Instead, with capital costs amortised over 20 years, they are getting their electricity for as little as 7c a unit – the grid base rate is over 30c. Businesses can also enjoy tax relief to further offset the cost of a solar system, much as they would for any other capital item. Broadly, you can depreciate the cost your system (net of rebates) over 20 years and if you fund your purchase through borrowings then you can claim the interest payable as a deductible expense. Maintenance costs also are deductible. If you are registered for GST then you also will be entitled to GST credits against the cost of your installation.”
Householders can expect to pay Country Solar $1700-$2200 per kilowatt for a quality rooftop solar array using high-quality components.
The cost includes connection and metering fees payable to Power and Water, and fees to local authorities for building approvals, and is after the Government-sponsored incentives for new installations have been deducted.
“If you receive quotes for less in the Northern Territory then you need to have a close look at the quality of the components being offered, the reputation of the manufacturers and the warranty support.
“Inferior products are simply unlikely to go the distance and are a very bad choice for a long-term investment that should be delivering you hassle-free benefits for 20 to 30 years plus.
“Like most other goods and services, rooftop solar costs more in the Northern Territory than in the southern states. This is due in part to the extra expenses with the need for much more robust installations to cope with cyclones.” TQ
Country Solar NT
4/524 Stuart Highway, Winnellie NT 0820
08 8998 9609