QUESTION: Solar panels on public housing

In Question Time today, Mark asked the Minister for Human Services how many solar panels on public housing had been installed following the Government's commitment, secured by the Greens, for installation on a minimum of 75% of all suitable exiting public housing. 

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: As part of the land tax bill debate last year, the Greens secured a number of commitments from the Government which were outlined by the Treasurer during the committee stage of the bill on the afternoon of 28 November last year. One of these commitments was to install solar panels on a minimum of 75 per cent of all suitable existing public housing. My questions of the Minister are:

1. Can the Minister provide an update as to the progress of this commitment?

2. How many public housing properties have been identified as suitable for solar panels to be installed?

3. How many of these properties have had panels actually installed so far?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question. In relation to solar panels on public housing, my colleague the Hon. Dan van Holst Pellekaan has just released the third phase of the expansion of solar on South Australian Housing Trust properties. The first rounds were in effect a trial to see what the uptake was, how the configurations would work and test the properties themselves in terms of whether they were even suitable for having solar panels on them due to age, structural integrity and the direction that the panels needed to be in order to have the capacity to transfer solar energy into electricity.

The scheme with Tesla has been expanded from 100 to 1,100 homes and is working towards over 4,100 properties across the state. We are very excited that this project has reached a new phase. Clearly, electricity prices are a significant issue for all South Australians and we recognise that a lot of South Australians on lower incomes, including people who are in public housing, would benefit from participating in having solar power on their roofs or through the Tesla Virtual Power Plant. That project has moved into its next phase and we are looking forward to deploying those to people's properties.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Supplementary arising from the answer, sir.

The PRESIDENT: I will go to the Hon. Mr Parnell first and then I will come to the Leader of the Opposition. The Hon. Mr Parnell, a supplementary.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: A supplementary, and I thank the Minister for her answer and I note she referred to the Tesla batteries. I am happy for her to take on notice the questions that I asked, which are how many properties have actually been identified so far and how many have had solar panels installed? I would be more than happy if she wanted to bring back how many have batteries as well as an additional item. But I am happy for her to take that on notice.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): Yes, I don't have those details in front of me, so I will get those details.

On 13 October, the Minister tabled the following reply - 

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I have been advised:

Just over 6,000 properties have been provided to Tesla for assessment for suitability.

Under Phase 1 and 2 of the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) project, 1,100 properties have had a solar PV system and Tesla powerwall installed.

Phase 3 announced on 4 September 2020 encompasses a further 3,000 solar PV system and Tesla powerwall systems on public housing properties. Phase 3 is proposed to be completed by the end of December 2022.

Outside of the SA VPP, SA Housing Authority are installing solar PV and batteries on several new and existing apartments during upgrade work, for example after the removal of asbestos roofs. To date solar PV and batteries have been installed on four new and existing apartment buildings and are proposed for an additional eight buildings over the current (2020-21) and next financial year (2021-22). In total, this will provide an additional 355 units with access to solar panels.