Jeff and Michaela's Solar Apartment

Jeff and Michaela live in a 12 unit apartment block in St Kilda East. They are both passionate about community and sustainability and today was a day they’d been looking forward to for a long time. Thirteen gleaming solar panels now have pride of place on their roof, they were now tapping into the sun’s infinite energy sources for the first time. This was a project driven by two determined individuals, it was not without its barriers, which makes today all the sweeter.

After discussing the option of installing a solar system with the other tenants and establishing that nobody else was in a position to join them, they were able to divide the roof into 13 sections, with the help of Positive Charge, a Council initiative run by Moreland Energy Foundation - 12 for the tenants and one for the Owner’s Corporation. Watching Jeff marvel at the panels it was evident that this was a very proud moment and one that didn’t happen overnight.

They had initially pitched the idea of installing a 30kw system with embedded network to the Owner’s Corporation, this would have powered the common areas and all 12 units during the day. There was not enough buy in and it was back to the drawing board. They then suggested a smaller system just to power the common areas and whilst the Owner’s Corporation were receptive to the project, funds were prioritised to an alternative project..

It was third time lucky with a 3.72kw system to power their own apartment at their own cost whilst utilising the current Solar Victoria rebate. Their cause was helped by the high number of owner occupiers in the building, their relationship with them, and proactive strata manager and their willingness to allay any fears and communicate with knowledge and passion.

It was important to Michaela and Jeff that the project didn’t impact the sense of community they had helped to foster with their neighbours. They had also installed a communal veggie patch in the nature strip after securing a Small Poppies grant from City of Port Phillip and invited everyone to share in the joys of planting and harvesting, they had organised super-sized garage sales and invited everyone to get involved, they even organised an impromptu Halloween celebration last year that went down a treat (excuse the pun). Community is important to them.

The installation caused minimal disturbance within the building or to the roof itself and there’s been a lot of intrigue and excitement about the project. At a recent Owners Corporation meeting, a new ruling was passed which will make it less problematic for the other apartment owners to install solar. Jeff and Michaela are hoping they can be the catalysts for change in their neighbourhood.

Jeff will be sharing their journey at our Solar Partnership for Apartment Buildings Information Session on the 12 March 2019, come along if you’d like to hear more about his story or ask him a question. Find out more about the Solar Partnership Program.

If you’re interested in installing solar, our article Go Solar, will help to guide your decision.