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6th June 2016
Solar Energy Gone Wrong for Strata
Solar and energy storage continue to feature heavily in the media, getting wide public exposure. This presents an opportunity for strata mangers to take initiative, or to risk falling behind and losing clients. Strata customers increasingly show frustration over the lack of progress on renewable energy. Some buildings, forced to take their own initiative, are falling foul of the sometimes dubious practices of cowboy solar installers. In a case in Brisbane, a building forked out $12,700 for a Solar Energy system that lay unconnected for 10 months. A situation that could have been pre-empted by a good strata manager.
While rooftop solar prices have decreased in recent years, it can still be an expensive exercise, so its important to get it right. In this case, after installing their solar energy system, the body corporate were excited to see significant savings on their electricity.

Problem 1) Fast-forward 9 months, and there was still no benefit to be seen. The problem was that the installer never plugged it in!  

This was a catalyst for reaching out to a competent strata manager to assist resolve the issue. It turned out that the solar energy system had not been connected because the common area meter required switching over to a solar ready meter. This was actioned and the solar energy was connected. However, the problems didn't end there.

Problem 2) Once connected it was discovered that the solar energy was only powering a sub-circuit that runs the lifts, and nothing else.

Problem 3) This also coincided with an increase in electricity billing rates, which largely offset any benefits that the system was providing.

The strata manager is continuing to work with the building to resolve these issues and realise the benefits.
Nobody wants a disaster story like this unfolding in their strata portfolio. Yet, where some see risk, others see opportunity. Some strata managers are more proactive, and adding value to their business by helping to inform their customers. Some are even using this angle to win new business. Bodies corporate will always run off and do their own thing, but it’s proving to be a good strategy to keep yourself one step ahead of the game.

For more information on rooftop solar, Andrew Reddaway from the Alternative Technology Association also provides a run down on some of the most Frequently Asked Questions.

Morgan Warnock
Editor Strata Energy News
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