Over 3 million homeowners currently enjoy the benefits of making their own electricity for free from rooftop solar. Today, access to Australia’s first solar garden has expanded to allow more households locked out of solar to benefit from lower electricity bills and taking action on climate change.

Initially launched for NSW residents, the Haystacks Solar Garden is expanding into Victoria, ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and south-east Queensland.

“From Brisbane, out to the Barossa and down to Burnie, anyone who pays for electricity can now harvest solar power as a solar gardener,” said Kristy Walters, Community Power Agency Director and Chair of the Haystacks Solar Garden Co-operative.

“After purchasing their plot, solar gardeners stand to receive estimated savings of $505 on their electricity bill each year for a decade, making a difference to household budgets at a time when cost of living expenses keep rising.”

“If you can install rooftop solar, that will always be the best option financially. If you can’t, either because you rent, live in an apartment or some other reason, buying a solar garden plot is the next best thing. It’s better in many ways because it’s hassle free – no maintenance or insurance costs to worry about, with the added bonus that a  solar garden plot moves with you,” said Ms Walters.

Anyone eligible for an account with electricity retail partner EnergyLocals can now purchase a ‘plot’ in the solar garden and receive on-bill solar credits on every electricity bill. Once the solar farm is built, solar garden credits will continue to arrive on their bill for 10 years.

Sydney resident Leah Bloomfield, who has bought a Haystacks Solar Garden plot, said “I live in a very tall terrace house. The quotes on installing panels on my inaccessible roof are way too expensive. The Haystacks Solar Garden is the perfect solution for me. Both my children rent and will be buying solar garden plots too.” 

The project is pioneering a model that other countries, such as the U.S., have been enjoying for years, said Kim Mallee, Haystacks Solar Garden Project Manager.

“With the Albanese Government committing to fund 85 solar gardens around the country, the Haystacks Solar Garden is a national test case to prove that many more households can be given the chance to access solar,” said Ms Mallee.

The project will build a 1.5MW solar array across about 5 hectares at a farming property in Grong Grong, one hour west of Wagga Wagga and reduce emissions by 3,100 tonnes each year.

“The opportunity to be involved was one we couldn’t resist as our goal is to enable a faster transition to carbon-free local power, and the Haystacks project supports exactly that,” said Luke Melisi, Energy Locals Partnerships Manager.

The Haystacks Solar Garden project is proudly funded by the NSW Government under the Regional Community Energy Fund in association with Community Power Agency, Pingala, and Komo Energy, with support from other organisations.