Solar for low income households FAQs
About the offer
Who can participate?
The solar for low income households offer is currently available to eligible NSW homeowners that live in the following locations:
- North Coast
- Central Coast
- South Coast
- Greater Sydney local government areas of:
- Bayside Council
- Blacktown City Council
- Burwood Council
- Campbelltown City Council
- Canterbury-Bankstown Council
- City of Parramatta Council
- Cumberland Council
- Fairfield City Council
- Georges River Council
- Liverpool City Council
- Penrith City Council
- Strathfield Municipal Council
- Sutherland Shire Council
Check your postcode or local government area to see if you live in an eligible location.
To be eligible for the offer, you must:
- currently receive the Low Income Household Rebate
- agree not to receive the rebate for ten years
- hold a valid Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card
- own your house
- not already have a solar PV system
- live in one of the selected NSW locations (see above).
If you are not the registered homeowner but your spouse is, your household may be eligible.
Please refer to page 7 of the guidelines for more information about eligibility criteria.
Will the offer be expanded to other locations in the future?
Yes. Over the next 12 months, the offer will be expanded across NSW.
If you’re not currently in an eligible location in NSW and are interested in participating, visit our website to fill in your details. We will notify you when your location becomes eligible.
What does the offer involve?
This offer is designed to help low income households install a solar system to reduce their electricity bills. Through this offer eligible homeowners will receive a free 3 kilowatt solar system installed on their home. To receive this solar system, you must meet the eligibility criteria and also agree to:
- stop receiving the Low Income Household Rebate for 10 years
- allow your electricity retailer to send your electricity bills to us
- take ownership of the solar system and be responsible for its maintenance
- notify us if you move house or change electricity retailer in the next 10 years
- enter into a contract between you and the solar installer
- contact your electricity retailer to arrange for a smart meter and pay any associated costs.
What if I qualify for the Low Income Household Rebate but am not currently receiving it? Can I still apply for this offer?
To be eligible for this offer, you must currently receive the Low Income Household Rebate.
This rebate helps low income NSW households cover the costs of their energy bills. It is paid once each financial year. We encourage you to contact your retailer to apply for the rebate. If eligible, you will receive the rebate as a credit on each quarterly energy bill, up to a total of $285 per year.
Once you have started receiving the rebate on your energy bill, you can apply for our solar for low income households offer. Before applying, you should consider if the offer suits your needs and whether you meet the other eligibility criteria.
I already have a solar system. Can I participate?
No. The offer is limited to households that do not already have a functioning solar system installed. However, households with a solar hot water system are eligible to participate.
Does the offer include a solar battery?
No. The offer does not include a battery. For more information on incentives for solar batteries, please see the Empowering Homes solar battery loan offer.
Why are some property types ineligible?
Your property may be assessed as technically unsuitable for a solar system. For example, you may have too much shading, or your roof may be structurally unsuitable. There may also be additional costs and complexities when installing solar systems on properties where the land and/or dwelling (such as the roof) are not solely owned by the householder.
Your approved installer will assess the suitability, level of complexity, check that you have received any necessary approvals and identify any additional costs that may be associated with the installation. Some properties may be considered unsuitable for the offer because of the additional costs and complexities.
Please refer to page 10 of the guidelines for more information to help you decide if your house if suitable for solar.
I hold a valid concession card and my partner owns our house. Are we eligible?
Households that collectively meet the eligibility criteria may be considered eligible for the offer if:
- The homeowner is listed as a spouse on the valid Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card.
- Both partners consent to all requirements for the offer, including to not receive the Low Income Household Rebate for a period of 10 years. If you apply as a household, both applicants will need to complete the consent forms Part A, B and C within the application form.
I have had an unexpected change in circumstance and am no longer benefiting from the system. What should I do?
We understand some participants may experience an unexpected change in circumstance, causing financial pressure that could not have been foreseen at the time of application. If you are experiencing an exceptional circumstance, for example an unforeseen situation resulting in a change of residence or a solar system which has been impacted by shading from a new neighbouring building, we encourage you to contact us at [email protected] to discuss your situation.
I am a renter. Can I apply?
No. Renters are not currently eligible for the offer. However, you may be eligible for other rebates and savings on your energy bills including the Low Income Household Rebate, Gas Rebate, Medical Energy Rebate, Life Support Rebate, Family Energy Rebate and the new Seniors Energy Rebate. Please visit the Service NSW website to find out more about the NSW Government’s Cost of Living campaign. You can check your eligibility for more than 70 rebates and savings, use the Savings Finder and book an appointment. Alternatively, you can call Service NSW on 13 77 88 or visit your nearest Service NSW centre.
Participating in the offer
How much can I expect to save by installing a solar system?
Participating households can save up to $600 per year on their electricity bills.
The savings from a solar system depends on your lifestyle and electricity consumption. You can maximise savings from the solar system by consuming the electricity produced in your home during the day.
The solar electricity not consumed in your home is fed back into the grid and some electricity retailers pay for this (this is called a solar feed-in tariff). Generally, the solar feed-in tariff is less than the amount you pay for the electricity you use from the grid.
I am concerned about COVID-19. Can I participate in the offer without putting myself or others at risk?
All our approved installers have implemented measures to reduce the likelihood of coming into contact or spreading COVID-19. These include minimising face-to-face contact and maintaining physical distance, adhering to strict hygiene practices and responding quickly to updated information and instructions from the Federal and NSW Governments. Please contact your installer if you have any questions or concerns around the controls they are implementing.
Visit our website for the latest information about the impact of COVID-19 on this offer.
Can I engage my own electrician to install the solar system?
No. The NSW Government has selected approved solar installation companies to deliver this offer. If your eligibility application is approved, one of the approved solar installers will contact you.
Will I need to change my electricity retailer?
You do not need to change your electricity retailer to participate in this offer.
Most electricity retailers provide a solar feed-in tariff and the amount paid by retailers can differ. To receive a solar feed-in tariff you could be required to change contracts with your retailer. This may result in you paying a different rate for the electricity you purchase from the grid.
It is important to talk to your electricity retailer about installing a solar system before applying for the offer. It may also be beneficial to shop around for the best electricity plan, smart meter offer and solar feed-in tariff. To help you more easily compare energy deals, visit Energy Made Easy. This is a free service to find the best available plans for your household based on your energy usage.
Do I have to give up the Low Income Household Rebate indefinitely?
No. You can reapply for the Low Income Household Rebate after 10 years.
If I move house after my solar system is installed, can I apply for the offer again?
No. Following the installation of a solar system, participants cannot apply for the offer again in the future.
If you move to a new house, you will no longer benefit from your solar system and you will not be eligible to receive the Low Income Household Rebate for 10 years. Therefore, if you plan to move in the next 10 years, it is likely that this offer is not right for you.
The longer you stay in your house, the greater long-term savings you will get from your solar system.
When will my Low Income Household Rebate payments stop?
Payments will stop after the solar system has been installed at your house. The NSW Treasury will notify you when the Low Income Household Rebate payments will stop.
Will I have any upfront or ongoing costs?
There are no upfront costs to receive the 3 kilowatt solar system. However, you must have a smart meter installed in your home as part of this offer. Some electricity retailers provide smart meter installations at no charge. Contact your retailer to discuss the potential cost and options.
Can I have a larger solar system installed?
Yes. You can choose to upsize your system to a maximum of 6 kilowatts, but you will need to pay the difference between the NSW Government supported 3 kilowatt system and the larger system. This will be invoiced to you separately by the installer. Installers for the offer are not allowed to actively upsell you a larger system. If you are interested in upsizing, you can request further information from your installer when you complete your solar system application.
Page 12 of the guidelines provides more information on upsizing.
Who will be responsible for fault repairs and ongoing maintenance of the solar system?
The system is covered by a 10-year warranty which is included in the contract between you and the installer. You will be responsible for basic maintenance. However, you should report any problems to the installer.
To find out how to maintain and make the most of your solar system, see these helpful tips on the Energy Saver website.
Why is an installer checking my wiring?
The installer needs to check your electrical wiring is safe for a solar system or smart meter installation.
During this check, there is a chance the installer could find an electrical issue with your wiring. Although unlikely, if they discover a major issue with an imminent safety risk, they may be required to disconnect your house’s power supply until the issue is resolved. When this happens, you are responsible for organising and paying for an electrician to fix the electrical issue. You will also need to pay for your power to be reconnected.
What solar system monitoring will be available?
You can monitor your solar system through your inverter and smart meter. This will help you get the most out of your system and maximise your bill savings.
Check your inverter’s digital screen or look at your inverter’s online account to see what time your solar system produces the most electricity. Use your major appliances during this time to get the most bill savings.
You may also consider investing in a third-party solar monitoring system, although this is not provided as part of the program. If you are interested, discuss the benefits and costs of having a monitoring system with your installer or your electricity retailer.
What is a smart meter and why do I need one?
A smart meter (also known as a digital meter or 'type 4' meter) is a device that digitally measures when and how much electricity is used at your home. A smart meter sends this information back to your energy retailer remotely, without your meter needing to be manually read by a meter reader.
You must have a smart meter installed in your home as part of the offer. This allows you to consume your own solar electricity first before purchasing electricity from your retailer. The meter also measures the unused solar electricity that is fed back into the grid. This allows your retailer to provide you a solar feed-in tariff.
Many retailers will install your smart meter for free, or as part of your contract. Before applying for the offer, it is important to check with your electricity retailer to ask:
- if they will install a smart meter at your home
- what are the changes to your electricity contract
- what is the cost of the installation (if any).
For more information about smart meters, visit the Energy Saver website.
How long will it take for me to receive my solar system after I apply?
Typically, the time from applying until installation is around three to five months, but this may vary. Page 11 of the guidelines provides more information about the application and installation process.
How long will the offer be available?
The offer will end when all funding is exhausted or on 30 June 2024, whichever occurs first.
What is the application process?
Please see page 11 of our guidelines for an overview of the steps involved.
These steps include completing an application form which includes consent forms Part A, B and C, checking your eligibility, having your house assessed and getting your solar system installed. You may also be required to contact your retailer to arrange for a smart meter to be installed.
What information will I need to provide as part of the eligibility application?
You will need to provide evidence you meet all the eligibility criteria, including:
- a Council rates notice to confirm that you own the home or similar evidence to confirm you own your home
- a recent electricity bill to confirm that you are receiving the Low Income Household Rebate
- an image of your Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card to confirm it is valid and up to date.
You will also need to consent to the offer’s requirements which includes not receiving the Low Income Household Rebate for 10 years.
What happens with my consent forms if I am ineligible?
The NSW Treasury will not use Part B (relating to accessing your electricity data) or Part C (relating to preventing you from accessing the Low Income Household Rebate) of your consent forms or disclose that information to any other party until after the installation of your solar system.
If you are found to be ineligible at any stage of the application process, the department will not use the consents you have provided. If this happens you can also request to have personal information in your consent forms deleted from the application portal by emailing the program team at [email protected].
You can choose to withdraw your application at any time up until the end of your 10-day contract cooling off period with your installer.
How can I learn more about installing and maintaining my home solar system?
Visit our website to watch a series of videos about your role and responsibilities for installing and maintaining your home solar or battery system. The videos cover:
- what installers need to do to ensure everyone is safe while they’re working at your home
- what information your installer should provide you with to operate your system safely, and
- helpful tips on maintaining your solar or battery system, so you can get the most benefits.