Frequently Asked Questions
THE SCOPE OF THIS PROJECT
+ I don’t live in Dunsborough or Yallingup, can I join this project?
Yes, we are now accepting households and businesses from Bunbury through to Augusta and committed to expanding our community sessions to the South West to take advantage of the ability to get sign-on’s in the calendar year of 2019. If there are other towns outside of the South West that want to be involved, please just give us a call to discuss how we can help your town as we are able to replicate the model Australia Wide.
+ Are you only taking 100 people?
This project can be scaled well beyond 1000 systems. In fact, there is no real physical cap for this project as the work that SUSI and Redback Energy have done on the financial structuring has ensured it is very scalable and not dependent on local subsidies or conditions. So it is for everybody who is interested and wants cheap renewable energy, however, there is a set time frame of which to sign onto the project as the fund need to be deployed by the end of 2019.
+ Will this project actually happen?
Yes, we are beginning to launch now in Dunsborough and Yallingup and we are now branching out to other towns as the interest has been so positive.
+ I’m skeptical about community Projects. Is this a professional and skilled group?
Yes, we are a professional group and Susi has invested into extensive legal, commercial and technical DD in order to make this investment. Our team is made up of experts from the Energy, Building and contracting, Finance, Accounting and Governance, Legal and Resource sectors. All our team members from DCEP, SUSI and Redback Energy have had many years of experience and are more than able to successfully deliver this project to the community. Our legal documents have also been created by a well-respected law firm, Jackson Macdonald in Perth. We strongly believe we have a terrific project formulated by an experienced team.
+ Can this project become bankrupt?
This project is based on Equity funding from our investor SUSI, as opposed to other projects with varying levels of debt finance. It is very unlikely that this project can run into difficulty given this type of funding as dividends can only be paid in any year by CEPCO if sufficient funds are available. The project will be reviewed by a Board of Directors and will be subject to normal Australian accounting and governance principles. It has an accountable and transparent structure and clear responsibilities to the consumer as well as our Investor.
+ How do I sign on to be part of this project?
“Sign Ons” need to occur in the calendar year of 2019. Please contact Emma Morgan directly (0408028375) or fill in your details here. In the message please write SIGN ME ON and you will be added to our list. We will convert noncontractual “Sign Ons” to Formal lease Contracts after the Event on the 8th Dec 2018. Participants who contact us post this event will be expected to sign on to a Lease Contract directly as it will then be available to all participants
ABOUT THE VIRTUAL POWER PLANT
+ What is a virtual Power plant and what is the value of it?
A Virtual Power Plant (or VPP) is made up of 1000+ individual household Solar and Battery Redback systems, spread across Dunsborough and the SWIS, sized to meet average household energy needs. The real value of a VPP in WA’s energy system is about supporting regional infrastructure reliability, voltage issues and reducing energy peaks. The systems will be connected by advanced aggregation and control software developed in Australia and operated in Western Australia. With 1000+ households in the project, the Virtual Power Plant can provide 6.5MW of solar at peak, 7.6GWH of energy per year and displace 7KT of carbon emissions (CO2-e) every year.
Building a 90% renewable grid starts with households showing the way and we hope that this project will grow beyond 1000+ homes and business and be replicated in other regional area in Western Australia.
+ What are the benefits of joining a VPP versus doing it by yourself?
We are better together! Being a large community energy project allows us to negotiate with the Utility groups and Government Regulators as one body. We know one person has little chance to change the future of energy, but 1000s have lots of power. Psychologically and literally – we have more power together. The more people using these systems, the more renewable our grid becomes.
+ Can I purchase a system upfront and still be part of the VPP?
Yes you can. The upfront cost of the total system is ~$12,000. If you would like to be part of the VPP and receive the full service (eg all repairs, maintenance, education, replacement parts for inverters, control system and batteries, Operations Centre service and VPP service), it will cost $10 per week.
+ Who is SUSI?
SUSI Partners specialises in financing sustainable energy infrastructure. The future energy supply is based on three pillars: renewable energy generation, energy efficiency advances and the optimization of energy storage and smart grid infrastructure. In addition, significant investments in electromobility, EV charging infrastructure and smart metering will become necessary in the coming years. We connect investors looking for ESG-compatible, long-term stable returns with developers and originators that offer projects able to fulfil these criteria.
+ Who is Redback Energy?
Redback Energy is the service that will be responsible for managing the Virtual Power plant, Operations and Management, Installations, Engineering, Procurement and Construction. They will be contracted to manage the Operations Centre and facilitate a Research and Development team to provide future technologies for the Redback Inverter.
+ What are the extra services I will receive as part of this project?
For a flat fee of $36.5 per week each household and business will receive – the standard solar / Battery system, Installation of equipment, maintenance, repairs, upgrades as required, replacement inverter / battery as required, Operation Centre monitoring and advice, Education regarding household energy use, The Redback Portal App on your computer / iPad, and the Virtual Power Plant service that seeks to gain profits for the community project.
+ Will this Virtual Power Plant be a retailer in the future?
If the current WA regulations change, yes, we could become a retailer, however this is not our main goal for this project. Our goal is to firstly provide residents and businesses with up to 90% renewable energy and secondly offer a valuable infrastructure service to the electrical Grid. Those two objectives are far more important to our project in transitioning to a more renewable future. We see ourselves as always being on the community side, so if retail contestability comes in, we would most likely act as a buyer’s advocate and negotiate with all the retailers to get the best deal for your energy.
+ Does the VPP take all my solar energy I’ve produced?
You get to use all your own Energy yourself. It’s about consuming as much of your own renewable energy as possible and consuming less COAL energy. That’s the goal. By doing this you make the grid more reliable and reduce peak energy times as you are not pulling from Synergy between 5-9pm. Any excess you have you will sell to Synergy who will pay you as part of REBS (renewable energy buyback scheme). In the future if you have a choice to change retailers we will help negotiate a group deal with a new retailer which values your system (we suspect it will be one with a lot of excess wind energy that can fill our batteries). If we need to use some of the energy to provide a VPP infrastructure service, we would always ensure participants were not “worse off” by using their battery storage. Our role would be to seek profits for this service which benefits the participant.
+ How will the not for profit (NFP) association decide what to do with profits made by the VPP?
hen profits come back to DCEP, the community will be able to vote on putting these funds to reduce lease payments or fund a local project. It will be the Committee of DCEP who will decide this, and that committee is made up of local participants.
THE REDBACK SYSTEM
+ Who developed this technology and where is this system made?
The technology was Developed out of the University of Queensland and by Redback Tech. The Redback inverter is owned, designed and developed in Australia. Redback Tech have staff in China who have an office above the production line and they run the “apple” production model, where Redback manages its own supply chain on the components of the inverter and their own Quality Assurance and Quality control.
+ What type of battery does this system use?
The batteries that are used in our project are made from LiFePo - lithium Iron Phosphate.
+ What type of standard system will I get in my household or business?
6.6kw of PV panels, a Redback 5.0 kVa inverter and a 7.2kwh battery.
+ How many solar panels is 6.6kw?
It is between 22 and 24 panels on your roof.
+ Western Power has told me that I can’t have more solar on my roof. What can I do?
Western Power have some limits on solar export if the area is constrained in some way, however the Redback Inverter and Battery solution can overcome a lot of these problems. It will be Redback Energy’s job to discuss this with Western Power and assist with approvals for your home.
+ If I already have solar can I still be part of the project?
Yes you can. If your panels are old, we would replace then with new. But if your panels are quite new, we can still use them and then add on to reach 6.6kw of panels. If you already have 6.6kw of panels and they are very new, we can add extra battery storage to make the situation fair.
+ Can I get all Black panels?
You can get all black panels, they are slightly more expensive than the ones we use but because they look so good, we are hoping to get a good deal on bulk buying the black panels.
+ Can the inverter be installed on the outside of my house?
Yes, it is weather rated for outside use, but we do recommend that you install it in a garage or under a protected eave.
+ I live up north, is the system rated for extreme conditions?
The PV panels have a cyclone rating, they can work well in hot conditions and the Redback Inverter is weather rated for outside use. The systems will be used in the North of WA in communities that have severe weather patterns.
+ How do I see the data produced by my system?
You have access to the Redback Portal APP which you can see on your iPad, iPhone or PC. It will show you graphs and data on your energy use in your home. This way you can educate yourself on what is happening in your home and adjust your behavior or appliances to save money and use more renewable energy.
+ Do I need to clean the solar panels?
Only if we see your system is having a problem. As everybody has the same system, we will be able to spot those who may be under performing for some reason and help to rectify this problem. Usually a heavy rain will clean your panels of the dust that settles on them. Houses with higher rooves have less issues with dust. Shadows and shading of trees can affect your panel efficiency and we can help you manage this. A very large bird poo can do the same but in most cases dirt and grime gets washed away by rain. Tree shading can be managed by regular pruning of trees around the house. The project can not pay for panels to be cleaned on every house as the project runs very lean and will not have money to spend on this issue. If you have your windows cleaned yearly, then ask them to have a look at your panels too. There should be no reason to do so though unless your system is under performing.
BILLS AND SAVING MONEY
+ When do you start paying $36.50 per week?
You start paying your lease payments by direct debit once your system has been installed on your home. We will ask for $292.00 at the point of signing a lease with the project which is 2 months advance weekly payments. Like most rental / lease agreements this is to ensure you are always 2 months in advance with your lease payments. If for some reason your installation does not eventuate then this $292.00 will be refunded to you. It is not an extra cost and it is not a bond, it is simply to ensure payments do not fall behind.
+ Do I remain connected to the electrical grid?
Yes you remain connected to the Grid as this enables us to provide the services to the grid as a Virtual Power Plant.
+ Do I still pay a supply charge to Synergy?
Yes you will still pay for supply charges from Synergy of ~$1 per day. If you are a residential home, you are allowed to export excess energy to the grid and Synergy pays 7c per kwh. This is part of the REBS scheme. Often this amount will pay off your supply charges. If you are a business, you will not be paid for excess energy export.
+ Will I get two bills or one?
You will have a Synergy bill and a direct debit for the Community Energy Project. They will be separate.
+ Will this system save me money on my bills? Can you tell me how much?
he amount of money you can save is dependent upon your energy use at home. We hope to educate and enable people to use this system as effectively as possible to maximise their own renewable energy use.
+ I’m a low energy user already, why should I get this system?
Low Energy homes still want to use renewable energy and save money; this is the main reason why they choose to lease this system. They can see they will use all their own renewable energy and contribute to the environment and a transition to a cleaner energy future.
+ If a system normally costs $12,000 why am I paying more over 10 years?
This is a managed lease. Over the ten-year lease period, the upfront cost as well as services and replacements are all factored into the weekly price. A replacement battery and inverter are factored into the price as well as installation, services to maintain and repair and the service to run a Virtual Power Plant – seeking potential community profits. It is not just a “pay it back” lease arrangement. Vital services are necessary to make a VPP operate. Once SUSI has been paid back the lease fees will simply be the running costs less the VPP income received with the community owning the entity.
PRACTICALITIES OF LIFE
+ What happens if I sell my house?
We hope the new owner will take over the lease contract for that system. Otherwise the system can be bought out at the point of selling your home.
+ I’m renting! Can I be part of this project?
Yes. You will need to discuss the project with your landlord and seek their permission to have the system installed. The home owner will need to have their name on the lease contract as they will need to continue to make weekly payments if you decide to move out. The home owner can simply increase your rent by $36.50 a week and you will see all the benefits of reduced energy bills in the home and use renewable energy. We see that having this system in the house will be attractive for all tenants, so we do not ever see this as a negative for the landlord.
+ I’ve lost my job and I’m having trouble paying my bills. What can I do?
You should contact your community energy team as soon as you know you will have difficulty making payments. Please don’t ignore it. There is a Utilities Support Fund (USF) managed by the not for profit committee, that can help participants cover bills for a set time period if they are experiencing a serious life event. The payments are paid from the USF to prevent delinquency on the lease agreement. Once you are back on your feet, you will need to pay that amount back to the Utilities Support Fund so other participants can use it when its needed.
+ What will happen if I stop paying the $36.50 per week.
If there is not a significant life event and you have simply decided to stop paying, Redback Energy can virtually disable your inverter from providing you with renewable energy. You will then draw energy completely from Synergy. You will then get a much larger bill from Synergy. If you do not pay Synergy either, it is up to Synergy to decide what the outcome will be. If the matter cannot be dealt with in a “friendly community manner”, the inverter and battery can be physically removed from the house and a sticker will be placed there which states “Give us a call when you’re sick of paying big bills to Synergy!” The lease document will clearly detail the procedure that will be taken to manage nonpayment.
+ I’m building a house and it won’t be finished until Dec 2019. What happens?
We need to have people signed on and hopefully installations finished by 31.12.2019. SUSI has not put a cap on their financial contribution, but we all do have a set time in which to sign on. Unfortunately, this has been a recent negotiation in this project and may affect some people. SUSI have a definitive 10-year period within the South West project which begins 2019 and ends 2029. We can assist as many homes and businesses in the South West who want to join, and SUSI will finance all of them. However, to provide SUSI with a clean exit in 2029, all households and businesses need to be signed on by the end of 2019.
THE LEASE AGREEMENT
+ What is a managed lease?
It is a lease that provides services to the consumer as well as the Solar / Battery system in order to keep the equipment and technology well maintained to provide valuable services in our State.
+ How long is the lease agreement I need to sign?
The lease is 10yrs with an option to continue for another 10 years.
+ Can I exit the lease?
Yes you will be able to exit the lease and the lease will have this detailed as part of the Terms and Conditions.
+ Can I buy out the system under this lease?
Yes you will be able to do this if you wish. The buy out clauses will be detailed in the lease document.
+ Has this project received professional legal advice?
Yes, we have. SUSI uses International law firm Ashurt for their contractual arrangements with the Community Energy Project and with Redback Energy. DCEP uses law firm Jackson MacDonald (Perth office) regarding the Lease document and on the overall Community Energy Project company structure. A representative from Jackson MacDonald will be present at the Event on the 8th Dec 2018 to talk through the legal documents. We have spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure this project has the expertise and advice that will enable success for many years to come.
ONCE THE PROJECT IS LAUNCHED
+ When will Installations start and when will I know?
Installations will begin as soon as possible in 2019 and our operations and Management team will be coordinating with participants. You will be contacted by them to arrange installation.
+ Who will be installing the systems?
Local installers from your town who have been trained in the Redback inverter by the Redback Energy management team.
+ Who organises approvals from Western Power and Synergy?
Redback Energy will arrange all approvals for installations.
+ Who do I call if there is a problem?
Redback Energy will be the first people to call if there is a problem.
+ Who will give me advice about how to use my energy better in my home or business?
Redback Energy will assist you with education about how to use your energy more effectively. You will also be able to monitor your own energy use on the Redback portal APP.