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Generating interest, and plenty of power

Kerry Rochfort's home in Kallangur.

Kerry Rochfort's home in Kallangur.

A Kallangur man who installed 42 solar panels on the roof of his house now receives $1500 a quarter through selling his surplus energy to the state government.

But while the system was legally installed, the number of panels would be illegal now.

Kerry Rochfort, a small business owner and an electrician by trade, had the panels installed on the roof of his Anzac Avenue house last August.

Kerry Rochfort.

Kerry Rochfort. Photo: Tim Miller

His solar power system generates between nine and 12.5 kilowatts of power daily and earns him up to $1500 a quarter in excess energy.

Mr Rochfort bought the slightly flood-damaged solar panels by auction from the University of Queensland. They were to be used in a multi-million dollar test project and were being stored in a shipping container that was damaged in the January 2011 floods.

A University of Queensland spokesperson said their insurance company sold the solar panels in May 2011 after paying out the university for the flood damage.

The house has the approval of the Building Services Authority and the state government's Electricity Safety Office, he said - as well as being known among locals for its unusual appearance.

"We have had the [BSA] come out and inspect them, so that's above board.

"And we've had the Electrical Safety Office come out and inspect them and again as I said, it did generate quite a bit of interest.

"They both put me through the coals, both of them. But they both said this is one of the better installs we have seen."

The Electrical Safety Office confirmed they inspected Mr Rochfort's installation on September 29, 2011, and found no issues to correct.

Mr Rochfort is now reaping the financial rewards of his bargain $12,000 investment, which he estimates would be worth $60,000 if purchased new.

"I am getting between $1200 and $1500 back a quarter from the actual grid," he said.

"And that is after paying for power of around $200 to $250 a quarter.

"We should have it paid off in the next two years."

Before June 1, 2011, a domestic house was able to have a maximum 30 kilowatts system installed, meaning Mr Rochfort was permitted to install up to 120 solar panels.

Changes to state legislation mean homeowners may no longer install a system of more than five kilowatts on a rooftop.

Mr Rochfort, who runs a ''cocktail slushees'' business from his home, has no intention of installing the full 120 solar panels on his house, but said he was considering adding a ''few'' more panels in the future.

"At the end of the day, everyone has their own opinion on it, but I just think half of it is just jealousy from most people,'' he said.

"I just came across an opportunity and for the next 25-30 years, the sun is never going to go away.

"The only bad thing is if I move out of here, I lose it."

77 comments so far

  • Good for you mate. Should be more like it. Doesn't look fantastic, but that's not the point.

    Pity the govt has capped the amount Queenslanders can generate and the lowered the price of resold power. But then, that would give the coal barons and power companies a hard time wouldn't it?

    Commenter
    Si.
    Date and time
    August 21, 2012, 5:57PM
    • Pity???? I'd say it's more about not sending the state broke or making people who aren't rich enough to buy solar subsidise those that are. This is the problem: electricity currently retails at 21-23 cents a Kw/hour and the solar subsidy was 44 cents a Kw/hour. Who do you think is paying for that?? Who do you think pays to upgrade the power grid when people install massive solar systems???

      Commenter
      Bob
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 8:18PM
    • I reckon it's excellent and was wondering when this house would hit the media. Now I'm just waiting for them old folks that listen to shock jocks to come on here and tell everybody that you can cover your house in solar panels and you'll barely be able to boil the kettle while watching TV...

      Commenter
      John Michaels
      Location
      Offshore
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 8:19PM
    • Bob, this is why its a good idea:
      http://www.smh.com.au/business/demand-for-power-falls-20120808-23uk9.html

      No new power stations needed for QLD before 2020 at least, now, how much does a power station cost the taxpayers?

      Commenter
      Si.
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 8:36PM
    • Si: "how much does a power station cost the taxpayers?" Nothing. These days the cost of the power station is factored into the price of electricity generation. The power stations are owned by private companies (although many of these companies are owned by the government in QLD). I should also point out that solar power doesn't even produce power in the evening when peak demand occurs.

      Commenter
      Bob
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 21, 2012, 9:43PM
    • Lets take this to its logical conclusion, many more people follow Terry's lead and install huge solar panel arrays. (although it no longer possible)

      Power companies cease to supply power during the day as solar takes over, the power companies have no business model and are forced to shut down.

      Who exactly provides power at night?

      Power stations cannot be switched on and off at the flick of a switch. But if its not economical for a power to make no money during the day their only option will be to charge excessive amount per kW for night usage to cover for their losses during the day. This is a lose-lose situation for all electricity users.

      Kerry grabbed a bargain with those panels but no-one could be expected to invest $60,000.

      FYI - A 5 year loan at the commonwealth bank for $60,000 at the current personal loan rate would require a monthly repayment of $1408.57

      He found a loophole and exploited it, the government has now closed that loophole thankfully.

      Kerry, best of luck to you.

      Commenter
      SilverTail
      Location
      UpperNorthShore
      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 9:25AM
    • So the poor pensioners and workers have to subsidise this man's income thanks to the generous solar handout policy devised by the previous Labor govt.

      Another case of hitting the poor to subsidise the well off.. thanks to Labor.

      Commenter
      Regh
      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 10:55AM
    • Bob, you seem to have an agenda.
      Solar power schemes and the carbon tax will increase power bills by less than 5%. The vast majority of the increases are to cope with the extra load of air conditioning.

      Commenter
      Someone who knows
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 11:16AM
    • Bob,

      think about the subsidy..........think about electricity companies not having to generate that power and the reduced use of electricity infrastructure.

      i'm betting you don't have a system. therefore it must be wrong for others to have it and they are 'rich'.

      yes i bought one two years ago. 1.5kw system. $2000. you could have got one for as low s $1500. it was an investment for the future not a 'instantaneous gratification' purchase. you know people who won't do anything unless they see the benefit within 5 minutes. my little grid is now paid off and my future electricity savings are for me, and the house if i ever move. because i used money i have saved to buy it.

      you keep believing you are subsidising me because you don't have a system.

      Commenter
      ian
      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 11:35AM
    • The biggest problem with roof mounted solar PV is that governments all over the world thought it a great idea to pull forward demand for solar PV by offering overly generous feed-in tariff schemes, thus creating a spike in production of PV panels, and a benefit of improved technology. When those same governments realised the feed-in tariffs were too generous, and a risk to their budgets, they reduced them dramatically, trashing the industries and businesses set up to deliver PV systems.

      Commenter
      OpenWindow
      Location
      Richmond VIC
      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 4:21PM

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