Bellevue resident goes off grid with his solar powered home

Martin Chape in his backyard with his solar power system.
Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d486119
Martin Chape in his backyard with his solar power system. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d486119

MARTIN Chape has thrown off the shackles of electricity giant Western Power and gone off the grid with his solar-powered Bellevue home.

And now the owner of Marty’s House is pushing for legislative changes so residents can distribute excess power to their neighbours at a cheaper rate than Synergy.

All Mr Chape’s power comes through an SMA Sunny Island system, which allows disconnection from the electricity grid.

“These systems were designed for a small off-the-grid network in a remote village,” he said.

“But expand your mind and think of your block in a suburb as an island.

“Think of a co-operative where members hold shares which fund the capital cost of the installation of the grid.

“Each home on the street would create a satellite system where they all generate their own solar power, with surplus power sent back to the grid for others in the street to call on when required.

“The cost of drawing power this way would be significantly cheaper than what customers are currently paying for electricity from Synergy.”

However, Mr Chape said he was told distributing energy to his neighbours would require a distribution licence from the Department of Finance.

A Western Power spokesman said some of the future technologies being trialled by Western Power that would further benefit customers with grid connection include peer to peer trading platforms as well as utility grade community battery storage.

“Western Power provides a safe, efficient and reliable connection to the electricity network for over one million homes and businesses in WA,” he said.

“Each connection allows customers to take advantage of current and emerging technologies with little or no cost to their existing connection to the grid, investment in infrastructure, or ongoing costs associated with the legislative requirements surrounding the safe distribution of electricity.

“Many of these technologies utilise the high level of solar panel uptake and solar generation in WA to reduce the cost of energy for the customer.”

Marty’s House is one of more than 20 that will be open on Sustainable House Day on September 16.