Negative energy turns to positive

Keith Lowe is "no greenie" – he says environmental concerns played no part in his decision to install solar panels and a battery storage system at his home in Stockton.

EMPOWERED: Keith Lowe, of Stockton, Newcastle, standing next to his BYD storage battery, with Adam Clements, of Solar Australia. Picture: Marina Neil

EMPOWERED: Keith Lowe, of Stockton, Newcastle, standing next to his BYD storage battery, with Adam Clements, of Solar Australia. Picture: Marina Neil

The semi-retired electrician, turned massage therapist, said his decision to buy BYD's B-Box batteries was driven mainly by a disdain for the electricity retailers.

"I don't want to give those mongrels anything," he says.

Mr Lowe had purchased solar panels under the old NSW regime where any excess power he generated was purchased by an electricity retailer for 60¢ per kilowatt hour. But last year that tariff was cut to just 6¢ per kilowatt hour. "That sucks," he says.

So as to use more of the electricity he generates himself, Mr Lowe purchased a five-kilowatt B-Box battery system and added more solar panels, taking his total generation capacity to 4.5 kilowatts.

It cost him $13,000 and he's saving up to buy additional batteries, which would double his storage capacity.

"I wanted to avoid the situation where I was selling cheap power to the grid and buying expensive power back," he says.

He bought the B-Box over other brands as it was the only system that fitted along the side of his house.

He has not calculated how long it will take to pay off the system through reduced power bills, but believes it will add value to his house. Solar Australia, which sold Lowe his system, estimates the payback period for a typical solar panel and battery storage package at around eight years.

I wanted to avoid the situation where I was selling cheap power to the grid and buying expensive power back

Keith Lowe