Green energy for White Gum Valley development ‘an Australian first’

A residential complex south of Perth will feature solar panels and battery storage technology, providing financial benefits for tenants and investors.

Landcorp’s White Gum Valley project will include apartments, townhouses, maisonettes and single home sites, housing more than 150 people on the former Kim Beazley school site.

Rather than paying an energy retailer, under the system, residents will pay their energy bills to the strata body – a move that hasn’t been trailed in Australia before, but that is being played out in Italy.

The WA Government said the use of renewable energy technology would cut energy and water bills by about $1200 a year for tenants in the complex, which will feature a demonstration housing project managed as a strata development.

Solar PV systems have not been widely used on strata developments, because the cost of the technology traditionally falls on the shoulders of the investors, while giving the tenant the benefit of cheap power. However, Curtin University, Landcorp and the CSIRO have partnered to develop a system that benefits both investors and tenants in White Gum Valley.

Curtin University sustainability specialist Jemma Green told ABC News the solar panels and the batteries sit on the strata and are owner-managed by the strata manager.

“It provides [investors] with an additional revenue stream, so if an investor buys an apartment and rents it out, the tenant will pay their electricity bill to the strata, which will offset the strata costs and provide a justification for the capital investment,” she said.

The project will be the focus of a four-year study at Curtin University into low carbon living, with Ms Green confident people will be willing to buy apartments that cost a more if they don’t have to pay the electricity bill.

Landcorp’s chief executive Frank Marra agreed, saying investors will see customers and buyers want to be in an estate where their ongoing living costs are going to be lower.

“People are going to vote with their feet – they are going to want to buy into these estates,” he told ABC News.