With electricity prices set to soar at the end of June, Riverina residents are one step closer to cheaper power as plans to construct a one-of-a-kind solar farm move forward.
The owners of Australia's first crowd-funded solar farm at Grong Grong, dubbed the Haystacks Solar Garden, have approved a $730,000 loan to proceed with the project's construction phase.
Co-op chairperson Kristy Walters said while the fences have now gone up at the site, the main works are just around the corner.
"The solar panels which were manufactured overseas have now arrived in Australia and construction is expected to begin in the next one or two months," Ms Walters said.
Once that gets in full swing, she said the 1.5 megawatt solar farm is only expected to take a "couple of months" to complete.
Ms Walters said so far 151 people have purchased $4200 plots so far, with some people buying more than one.
"We also had a very kind donor who offered discounted plots to Riverina members," she said.
She said the solar farm project is set to last 10 years with investors to receive discounts from their power bills during that time.
"We've modelled it that our solar gardeners will receive around $550 off their electricity bill every year," Ms Walters said.
It comes as NSW energy prices are set to rise by up to almost a quarter with the end of the financial year.
The Australian Energy Regulator is reporting NSW residents without controlled load could see price rises of up to 21.8 per cent while those with a controlled load could experience climbs of up to 24.9 per cent.
AER chair Ms Clare Savage said cost of living pressures and rising energy prices mean it is more important than ever to ensure customers access hardship and payment plan protections when they need them.
"We know that identifying hardship customers earlier, and getting them support sooner, can take the pressure off and help them get back on their feet," Ms Savage said.
"We also know that energy bills, and the information they contain, help customers make confident decisions, such as making sure they're on the best deal for them, or shopping around for a better deal."
Ms Savage said the AER would be "keeping a close eye" on energy retailers to ensure they are complying with the mandatory Better Bills Guideline and providing bills that are easier to understand and include a 'better offer' statement on the first page.
"In wholesale markets we'll be making sure market participants are complying with the rules that ensure the power system remains stable and secure and that markets operate efficiently and transparently," Ms Savage said.
"With the energy transition in full swing, it's more important than ever electricity market participants meet their obligations so that the Australian Energy Market Operator can operate the network safety and securely.
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