By ShineHub Chief Executive Officer Alex Georgiou
Two years ago I co-founded a start-up called ShineHub with the goal of replacing big energy with community solar.
The first step in this is to make both solar and batteries affordable and accessible for all Australians in a way that makes sense and allows everyone to get the best solar package for their unique situation. To do that, we run community programs that bring the best products, payment options and vetted local companies in one place.
ShineHub’s model is different to anything Australia has seen before. We’re a solar marketplace that partners with local community groups who share our vision of replacing big energy with community solar. They help us to spread the word, pick the best solar companies, products and payment options for local residents.
After six months in the making we launched the Geelong Community Solar Program in May this year with a great response – 1840 expressions of interest and 800 local residents coming along to our 17 information events.
At the events we go through the options to purchase the system, apply for a personal loan, or do a fully serviced fixed rate option where the customer just pays for the power the system produces and all maintenance, equipment replacement and general servicing comes at no additional cost to the customer. This Fixed Rate plan typically works best for higher energy users – folks paying $500 or more – and for those homeowners they can see immediate savings in year one and enjoy a low, predictable energy cost for years to come.
To figure out the product and payment package that best suits each household, our solar experts spend one-on-one time with each customer to understand their energy usage, what appliances they want to use more and their budget. This information is used to design a system accordingly, whether that be purchasing a solar system outright, taking out a personal loan or signing up for a fixed-rate plan.
All of ShineHub’s offerings leverage people-power and group buying discounts which significantly reduces the price of going solar. We also work to support local jobs in the communities we visit. In Geelong alone, we have partnered with seven local solar companies to handle installations.
Unfortunately, because we’re ‘disrupting the status quo’ and offering unrivalled deals there are always a few solar companies that attempt to confuse customers with defamatory, false and misleading attacks – both personally and professionally.
This saddens us because ultimately it just hurts the local community, confusing people and preventing them from taking advantage of the huge benefits of solar and battery solutions.
Community Solar is a new and exciting movement that can put power back into the hands of everyday Australians. With the support of nine fantastic local organisations and councils, the Geelong Community Solar Program will not only help hundreds of households reduce their electricity bills, it has also unlocked the possibility of Geelong becoming home to one of Australia’s first ‘virtual powerplants’.
When business and community works together, a brighter future awaits.