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Bill shock and solar panels
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Felix
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22/08/2017 - 12:05 pm
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This is a strata in NSW.

Some of the Owners received their electricity accounts yesterday from Energy Australia and I was astounded that our personal account for 3 months went from $323 to $1,300.

How best do we challenge this or does it seem OK?

We haven't been informed of the Strata electricity account yet but this will be asked at the next SC meeting.

With this in mind it seems to make sense to install solar panels on the Strata's flat roof in order to reduce electricity costs.

We presume a DA will be needed for Council approval.

Will a special resolution be required?

Can you recommend a few companies that will provide us with a report on what our electricity savings might be and who might you suggest to do this work.

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Sir Humphrey
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22/08/2017 - 1:38 pm
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Some questions to consider:

Does your roof and the relative position of each unit's electricity meter make it feasible to fill the roof with each unit having a portion? Then you could have what looks like one big array but is actually multiple smaller arrays, one per unit. 

Alternatively, does the OC have a nice steady load running all day (say corridor or underground parking lights and fans) that could be neatly matched to the output of a larger PV system so that you consume all or most of what you could make through the day?

In either scenario each lot owner gets equitable use and benefit out of the common property, either through reduced personal electricity bills or through reduced levies due to the lower OC electricity bill. 

I am not across the NSW legislation but I expect that you would need a special resolution to install for each unit because there would be a by-law making each unit responsible to repair and maintain their bit of PV.

For the communal system feeding the common property electricity circuit, it might be only an ordinary resolution but I don't know. If you were in the ACT you would do this using s.23 of the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011. 

Also, with or without installing PV, has the OC converted all its lighting to more efficient globes? Even recently constructed buildings can have an obscene quantity of 50W halogen globes, installed at low cost to the developer and high on-going cost to the residents. 

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Felix
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22/08/2017 - 2:28 pm
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This is a 7 story building with the meters in the basement level.

The OC has a steady load all day.

This is the reason we would like to have advice from a reputable firm dealing with

the kind of issues you raised to help lower electricity costs for both the individual Owner and the OC for common property.

Changing to more efficient globes is underway at the moment.

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Lady Penelope
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22/08/2017 - 9:59 pm
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Here is a case study that you might find useful from a NSW strata building, 'Wallis View", including a Special By-Law  Motion.

http://greenstrata.com.au/case.....wallisview

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Happy Strata
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23/08/2017 - 1:30 pm
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I have used Ethan from Sustainability Now in a number of strata complexes, and in each we were have been able to make substantial improvements to our energy use and costs based upon the advice / report given.

The Green Strata website that Lady Penelope mentioned is a treasure trove of great information on this subject. Coincidently Ethan has been involved in that over the years: http://greenstrata.com.au/ackn.....egements 

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JimmyT
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23/08/2017 - 1:42 pm
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Felix said
Some of the Owners received their electricity accounts yesterday from Energy Australia and I was astounded that our personal account for 3 months went from $323 to $1,300. How best do we challenge this or does it seem OK?

Double check that the bills were based on actual readings and not a "guesstimate". Everyone is expecting higher bills and some energy providers may be taking advantage of that to save money of accurate readings (with the intention of levelling them out later).

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Sir Humphrey
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23/08/2017 - 6:43 pm
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Agree with JT. Check your meter and see that it matches your bill. Also, it could be that the earlier bill was a low guesstimate and the current bill has an actual reading bringing things correctly up to date. That was the explanation of my mother's higher than expected gas bill.

Also, depending on what you use electricity for, there might really be a big seasonal difference. 

Back to the solar question: One more option to consider, though more complex than the OC simply attaching PV to its own circuit to offset its own common property electricity consumption. Some places have installed so much PV generation that they can supply from the common property to individual lots through a more complex billing arrangement. Search through ReNew Economy and One Step Off the Grid sites as well as Green Strata for examples. 

BTW Are the meters in the basement also where the car parking is? If so, another thing to think about is having cabling from each lot's meter to its parking space with an ordinary 15A outlet. That would enable the lot owners to get a plug-in EV or hybrid at any time and greatly simplify billing. It would just automatically go to each lot's electricity account. The lot owners would then have an incentive to opt for time of use metering which would have the EV charging shifted off the evening peak. 

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Felix
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24/08/2017 - 8:27 am
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Spot on guys in regard to the high electricity bill!

I called the company and told them of my complaint and they suggested that I read the meter and advise them , which I did.

They also told me to take the reading closest to the smaller number, so if the reading was halfway between 1 and 2, you would give the reading as 1.

They gave me a couple of options ,one of which was changing my account to $711.00 from $ 1,272.

So I took it no further and accepted their offer and a new account should arrive in a few days.

I have to agree with JT about a possible "guesstimate"or perhaps a bit of carelessness on the reading.

By the way, the previous account for the year before was $ 689.

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