Published in The Standard, February 27, 2013
SOLAR power is on the rise in Wannon, with the electorate now home to 7200 solar-powered houses.
Around 20 supporters celebrated the achievement at a barbecue in Portland on Sunday, where the figures were announced.
Portland Sustainability Group convenor Peter Reefman said the new figures were a “milestone”.
“I don’t think people realise just how staggering that number is in solar intake,” he said.
“A lot of people are surprised at just how quickly the solar revolution is happening in the region.”
The group revealed 3700 people in Wannon now have solar panels, while 3500 have solar hot water.
The Portland barbecue was one of 20 similar events held across the country on the weekend to put solar energy on the agenda for September’s federal election.
Australia now has more than one million houses with solar electricity, and more than half a million households with solar hot water.
Mr Reefman said installing solar hot water could save households an average of $400-$600 a year.
Wannon households installing solar energy can save upwards of $300 a year, with some saving around $1000 per year.
Despite government cuts to solar energy rebates within the last year, Mr Reefman said he was positive more Australians would invest in solar technology.
“When there’s more people in a town with solar power, neighbours are more encouraged to take it up and we are starting to see that in some of the towns in Wannon.”
He hopes Parliament will recognise the community’s support for sustainable energy when making decisions.
“Government support has been reduced so savings are a lot less today, which is one of the reasons why the barbecue took place,” Mr Reefman said.
“Through people power, we are doing what we can to make sure that governments support and keep supporting solar energy.”
Federal member for Wannon, Dan Tehan, was unable to attend the barbecue, but met with solar energy supporters on Saturday to accept a certificate acknowledging the number of solar homes in the electorate.
Members from community campaign group 100% Renewable also attended the Portland event.