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Man gets $1.60 power bill for December after fitting solar panels

A man is seeing the sunny side of solar power after paying just $1.60 for his December electricity bill.

Blenheim resident Stephen Gould made the move to renewable energy in October and his latest bills show going green has helped him save big.

Gould installed 16 solar panels on his roof, the energy from which feeds into the town's power grid, which in turn comes off his electricity bill each month.

He showed Stuff his last two power bills, totalling $17 for November and $1.60 for December, and said he expected his next power bill to be in credit following a month of good weather. 

This was despite over summer having two teenagers off school, running air-conditioning and a spa pool, Gould said.

"This is quite an energy hungry home. We went from $250 a month [in power bills] down to about $20 for the whole of summer," he said.

"I admit we will pay a power bill in winter ... but it's about taking a holistic view. You can't just put them on and expect to earn money every month."

The large $16,000 system was the latest in his push to embrace solar, following the installation of a solar-powered water heater and spa pool.

He expected it to pay for itself in about seven years, and earn the household savings in the years following, he said.

Its installation occurred ahead of the Marlborough District Council's new solar panel initiative.

Gould urged home owners to take advantage of Marlborough's high sunshine hours and "buy electricity for your future".

The council announced a tender in January seeking expressions of interest from solar panel providers who were members of the Sustainable Energy Association New Zealand (SEANZ).

Once a provider entered into an agreement with the council, the scheme would allow the council to cover the cost of solar panel installation through the accredited providers, who would liaise with homeowners.

Ratepayers would then pay back the council for the cost of the installation through a targeted rate over nine years, alongside an administration fee and a 5.5 per cent standard interest rate.

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