Solar sparks new beginnings at Geelong’s House of Hope

Group of happy people holding banner underneath new rooftop solar system at drug rehabilitation facility House of Hope
House of Hope's new donated state-of-the-art rooftop solar system

House of Hope, a new live-in facility for women seeking drug and alcohol rehabilitation support, has unveiled a new donated 30kW state-of-the-art solar system projected to save around $1,000 a month on running costs.

Led by Australian Women in Solar Energy (AWISE), in conjunction with leading solar manufacturers REC Solar and Enphase Energy, and installed by local company, Vortex Electrical, the donated 85-panel system will provide most of the daytime electrical power required to run all House of Hope’s operations.

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Expected to begin housing women in early 2024, House of Hope is driven by Geelong-based not-for-profit, Foundation 61. The facility aims to accommodate up to eight women and will feature a dedicated children’s play area, education room and wellbeing facilities. House of Hope will also feature two family rooms where women can stay with their pre-school children for six months or longer.

With comparable private facilities costing patients up to $10,000 per month, Foundation 61 founder and CEO Rob Lytzki said House of Hope will run entirely on philanthropic and community support through grants and donations, and the cost to patients is 85% of their fortnightly Centrelink benefit. This makes savings on electrical running costs invaluable.

“The gift of solar energy could mean the difference between the centre self-sustaining or struggling to a standstill,” he said.

“Savings from the new solar system will enable us to meet the costs of almost a quarter of our paid support staffing requirements. For us, this gift is an operational lifeline that makes House of Hope viable,” he added.

Australian Women in Solar Energy (AWISE) founding member Sophie Wright initiated the solar project nationally. AWISE was established to support women in the solar industry as well as driving projects to support women in local communities.

“I was completely blown away by the backstory of House of Hope and Foundation 61 in Geelong,” Wright said.

“AWISE is passionate about supporting women, so donating a solar system for House of Hope and coordinating its installation through my work with Vortex Electrical, is a way that we can really help this project,” she said.

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“Solar is such a valuable gift because the savings continue well into the future, particularly as the Victorian Default Market Offer—the benchmark price for electricity—has just increased by 30%,” she said.

“As a fully electric site, energy bills are one of the significant overheads. By utilising the energy from the sun we can keep these as low as possible which in turn means that the House of Hope can channel their funds into running their programs.”

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