Talk to any Australian with solar panels and there’s a fair chance they’ll tell you about a time that their system stopped producing power – for days, weeks or even months – and they didn’t find out until they saw their next bill.
Cameron Reid, a 46 year old from Woodend in Victoria, has one of these frustrating stories.
“We had a problem with our first inverter, but had no knowledge that it wasn’t working,” says Cameron, who lives with his partner Brad. “I just walked past it one day and thought ‘That doesn’t look right’. I don’t know for how many months it wasn’t working.”
Their worst fears were confirmed in the couple’s next quarterly power bill.
“I was very naïve back then about solar power because it was all fairly new. Well, new to me. It can be an expensive exercise if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Because traditional power companies make more money when people use more power from the grid, it’s no surprise that they don’t have a big incentive to tell their customers when their solar systems are on the blink.
It was one of the main reasons Cameron turned his back on his existing energy company, and its promise of a 49% discount, to join DC Power Co.
More valuable than gimmicky pricing offers were services like DC Power Co’s Solar Alert, which sends an alert to customers when their system’s export looks unusual.
Cameron says getting information about their solar system, through the Solar Alert and weekly insights email, was a key selling point.
“It puts the power in your hands,” he says.
These features have helped Cameron and Brad achieve savings, but there’s an even more important impact that the couple are mindful of every time they open their DC Power Co insights email, or a monthly electricity bill.
“We are doing our bit to minimise our impact on the environment,” he says. “That is one thing we are both very proud of.”