Giving power to the people

Powering up: A property in Grafton with a 5.4 kilowatt solar power system installed by Northern Rivers Renewable Energy.
Powering up: A property in Grafton with a 5.4 kilowatt solar power system installed by Northern Rivers Renewable Energy.

AT the same time Prime Minister Julia Gillard was announcing Labor’s latest climate change policy, Grafton businessman Trent Rogers was aboard a helicopter over the city inspecting electricity generation systems that are already saving an estimated 1700 tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere each year.

His latest installation, and the biggest in the region, is a 110-kilowatt combined system on aged housing facilities at Clarence Village and Dougherty Villa that Mr Rogers estimated could generate electricity that would return about $900,000 a year.

It is an impressive installation and one you can only get in proper perspective from the air.

It comprises 750 panels and they were installed in 11 days.

Mr Rogers runs Northern Rivers Renewable Energy as a business, but it is also his passion.

“I love it,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this for 18 years, well before there was money in it. I drive a hybrid car and believe in renewable energy.”

Mr Rogers has installed a 10-kilowatt system on his home, capable of returning about $9000 a year, and is about to install another 10-kilowatt system on his shed.

The most common household installation produces between 1.5 and three kilowatts of energy and, with government rebates, costs between about $6000 and $15,000.

Each kilowatt produces a return of about $900.

Mr Rogers is now employing between eight and 12 people in the Clarence Valley.

He said there were generally three types of people who installed solar power.

One was those who wanted to save a bit of money and do the right thing by the environment; the second was those who wanted to do the right thing and didn’t care how much it cost, and; the third was those wanting to install generating capacity so they could use more power.

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