Scott Bocskay

The Sustainable Melbourne Fund is offering businesses solar finance packages to cover 100 per cent of the capital cost of a solar power installation with flexible repayments through council rates and support to gain landlord agreement.

The first two businesses to access the financing, Cooking Space and Covertel, are reporting a substantial reduction in energy costs, and the owners of the buildings, Two Brothers Legacy and Kivaro Group, now have property assets with improved capital value and market edge regarding attracting and retaining tenants.

“Our mission is to help businesses overcome any last hurdles to going solar, so they can have panels installed and start getting both the environmental and financial benefits immediately – without interrupting their cash flow,” Sustainable Melbourne Fund chief executive Scott Bocskay said.

The Cooking Space installation is a 30-kilowatt system – about 15 times the size of the average household solar array – and is expected the energy cost saving will be $9000 a year.

“The savings on our power bills easily cover the repayments, so going solar had no negative impact on our cash flow. At the same time, we’re doing our bit for the environment,” Cooking Space owner Eric Lim said.

The 9.7kW installation at Covertel, a business that manufactures hydrogen fuel cells for backup power, is expected to reduce energy bills by 74 per cent, saving $3500 or more a year.

Since the program officially launched on 9 December, there have been numerous expressions of interest. City of Melbourne also expects the program to help reach the municipal target of 25 per cent of electricity sourced from renewables by 2018.

“There are more than 1.5 square kilometres of roof space sitting above Melbourne businesses that could be turned into profit-generating panels for these medium and small enterprises,” City of Melbourne environment portfolio chair Arron Wood said.

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