Farming The Sun hits 1.5mw of solar panels in New England

BRIGHT IDEA: Jim Booth with his solar system (the red box). An app that comes with the system gives him an hourly update about how energy the solar panels generate. Photo: Gareth Gardner
BRIGHT IDEA: Jim Booth with his solar system (the red box). An app that comes with the system gives him an hourly update about how energy the solar panels generate. Photo: Gareth Gardner

NEW England is in the midst of a renewable energy boom – but it’s not just big companies rolling in with huge solar and wind farms, everyday residents are getting on boarded the renewable bus by the droves.

Farming the Sun is a local charity that helps people get discounted solar panels by buying them in bulk.

It has dished out 1.5-megawatts worth of solar panels since it started in 2008, enough to power between 300 and 375 households.

Farming the Sun chief executive officer Adam Blakster said the organisation was getting closer to its goal of increasing solar in the New England region by one per cent.

“Ticking over 1.5 megawatts of installations is a major milestone for us,” Mr Blakster said.

“These are very big numbers for rural and regional program.”

Buying in bulk gives Farming The Sun greater bargaining power and Mr Blakster said the organisation can get solar panels for 20 to 33 per cent off the retail price. 

Tamworth resident Jim Booth had been “thinking about a solar system for ages”. He made an order with Farming The Sun, late last year and had the system installed in March.

His solar system was quoted at $11,920, but with the bulk buy discount, he only paid $8120.

“I’m very happy with the system,” he said.

“Being slightly techo-geeky, what I really like is the fact I get an email every morning that shows me how many kilowatt hours I generated for the previous day.

The solar system also comes with an app that gives a breakdown of its daily, weekly and monthly energy generation.

“It’s quite nifty – so far it’s generated nearly 3000 kilowatt hours in just over five months,” Mr Booth said.

“For me it was mainly the savings. My last bill in comparison to this time last year, it was about $200 cheaper.

“So if I get four bills saving $200, that’s $800 a year, that will take 10 years to pay off and everything will still be operating in 10 years time.

“It could be sooner, because it might generate a whole heap more come summer.”

If you’re on the fence about a solar system, Mr Booth said do your own research and talk to someone that has one.

“Have a look at who’s got some on their roof in your neighbourhood, go up, knock on the door, and ask them,” he said.

“And have a very good look at your next power bill.”