Greater Shepparton is solar savvy

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Sheppartonians are loving solar energy, according to new data from Powercor.

The Greater Shepparton area experienced a 15 per cent increase in residential solar panels in 2019 compared to 2018, placing us in the top four most solar savvy regional centres in Victoria.

In 2019, the region had a total of 4856 residential solar connections, behind the solar trailblazing cities of Geelong (10 399), Bendigo (9476) and Ballarat (5254).

If you break it down by postcode, 3631 — representing areas including Kialla, Grahamvale, Orrvale and Shepparton East — saw the largest increase in solar-connected houses between 2018 and 2019, at 19 per cent.

That was followed by 3630 which includes Shepparton, Caniambo and Shepparton-Mooroopna at 13 per cent.

Areas such as Mooroopna, Ardmona, Undera and Coomboona represented by the postcode 3629 came in close behind at a 12 per cent increase in solar-connected houses.

The number of solar panel installations in the Powercor network increased by about six per cent from 142 200 in January 2020, to 150 500 by April, suggesting the potential for an 18 per cent increase this year, more than the 14 per cent growth in 2019.

This data also supports forecasts under Powercor’s plan for 2021-2026 which estimates the proportion of residential customers with solar will grow between 18 and 34 per cent in some areas of Victoria by 2026.

Powercor’s general manager electricity networks Steven Neave said the figures reinforced the need to build network capacity to ensure customers could get the full value from their investment in solar.

“If no action is taken by 2026, customers serviced by almost half of our zone substations will experience difficulties when they try to export energy to the grid,” Mr Neave said.

Powercor proposes to spend $61 million over the next five years to enable the vast majority of customers to export electricity from their solar systems.