In a new series of articles, we’re talking with our members about why they chose a Plico solar + battery solution, what difference it’s made to their lives, and what their experience has been like. These members want to help spread the word about Plico and the difference it can make to your lifestyle, and hip pocket.
Craig lives in The Vines; a booming suburb in the north-east of Perth. Having already installed solar panels, Craig was on the lookout for a solar battery that wouldn’t break the bank. With a technical background and an engineering career, Craig has a solid understanding of the ins and outs of solar, and when he found Plico he was sufficiently impressed.
“I felt that Plico was really ahead of the game.”
Given Craig’s interests and technical knowledge, he was particularly interested when Plico launched WA’s first Virtual Power Plant (VPP).
I saw the story about Plico supplying energy to the grid as part of a VPP and it really caught my interest. I had seen advertising about community batteries, but I felt that Plico was really ahead of the game.
As he began looking into it, Craig realised Plico had a unique solution that was going to suit his household perfectly, taking into account his desire to control his own energy and the power outages experienced in his area.
I really liked the idea of having the ability to control my energy use, and use it, rather than supply it back into the grid. I really value being able to manage my own energy situation.
Additionally, up here, we lose our power for a couple of hours at least once a month, and my Plico system can supply energy to me even when the grid is offline.
Thirdly, I did my research on my energy bills and found I would roughly break even or a little better (with a Plico system). So, I get all the benefits for no extra cost - or better!
“To me, there’s nothing around that competes with Plico.”
Overall, Craig felt that Plico’s philosophy of putting the power into the community’s hands was empowering. The Plico battery solution allows members to control their energy consumption.
The service agreement appealed to me, removing the expenditure of purchasing a battery, which would've been in excess of $12,000.
And I wanted to be a part of the VPP project, unique in WA, and the arrangement with the market operator.
Overall, it was about being smart with power, smart with energy and being part of the community battery.
I've been looking at batteries for a while, but I wasn't going to pay $12,000 - $15,000 up front. I looked at suppliers, batteries, and for upfront lower capital costs. Plico offered a unique solution via the subscription model and that suited me.
“We are able to run the whole thing on its own, without the grid.”
Since retrofitting his solar system with a Plico battery, Craig has been focused on generating savings - and he’s been very successful.
I’ve been experimenting a bit and what I found was that on sunny days, the solar and battery solution was able to drive us through a complete 24-hour period for about five days running with almost zero consumption of the grid (only around 2%).
I was managing loads - we had things like dishwashers on, dryers on, making bread, and we have a bore which was switched on a few times. We were able to be self-sustaining for about seven days in a row, using almost nothing off the grid.
“You become much more aware of how to optimise your usage and drive down your costs.”
Craig has also found immense value in Plico’s app, which allows him to visualise where and when his household is using the most power, so he can optimise his energy use and drive even more savings. Craig is on an alternative tariff that charges less for grid power during off-peak times and more when demand is highest.
I like Plico’s software display, because I can be much more aware of the loads that I have around the house and, in particular, what’s programmed to come on automatically and what isn’t. For example, we have a sewage pump and solar electric hot water system, which come on when they're required. You become much more aware of the loads, and of what you can manage to turn on at the right time.
We're able to turn on the switch to use solar energy during times when the battery is charging or at peak charge. When this happens and the solar contribution is significant, usually during what they call peak power tariffs, we can turn on discretionary loads.
If you know your tariff, and you understand when the tariff is cheaper vs more expensive, you can really save when you plan around it. Work your loads into when the tariff is cheap. This is ‘load shifting’, and the Plico software makes it much easier to know when to purchase power off the grid and how to optimise your energy usage with your battery. The graphics are great.
Finally, we made a big difference when we decided to turn on our solar electric booster to come on during the middle of the day, rather than at night time.
“I expect we’ll end up saving around $9 a week, around $500 per year.”
Being so interested in the cost savings his Plico battery provides, Craig has been deep in analysis-mode, looking at current costs vs those from last year. It’s still early days in Craig’s solar battery journey, however after experiencing a full summer, he is confident that across a year his household will be better off financially.
Once we’ve had the system for a full 12 months including all the seasons, we’ll have a direct comparison.
Plus, as of now we've saved about 850 kilograms of carbon dioxide. That's a lot of greenhouse gas that you're not pumping into the atmosphere because you're storing it and using it yourself. When we hit a tonne of carbon dioxide saved, that’ll be a cause for celebration!
“It truly made sense to me what Plico were doing, plus I knew there’d be a significant reduction in our household carbon footprint.”
When Craig began to understand Plico’s offering and get to know the team, he felt comfortable that this was an organisation that knew what it was doing. We asked Craig what it was that he trusted about Plico.
I felt the Plico team to be pretty open and honest with their answers. And I got quick answers when I asked.
I run my own business and I deal with a lot of clients. I was impressed with the way the Plico team members manage themselves and how they manage their customer interaction.
And it truly made sense to me, what Plico were doing, plus I knew there’d be a significant reduction in our household carbon footprint. That’s what I like about Plico.
The installation process was really good, very quick and efficient. You had four or five guys here, they rocked up on time and it was very efficient.
“I've talked to many people about Plico.”
Now that Craig has a Plico battery up and running, he’s even more enthusiastic about sharing his experience with people.
I like to show people my graphs and analysis. Basically, I tell them: you manage your power.
I also like to tell people I'm happy with the response from Plico, and how the costs balance out. If your bill is above a certain level, it can work in your favour. I have a 15 kWh battery and in my house, it makes sense.
I also talk about the virtual power plant and that this is a smart way of actually adding to the community when power is short. In WA, we're shutting down our coal power stations and I read recently we're going to be needing to update our power generation by a factor of about four - this is an opportunity to be part of the solution. I think Plico’s VPP is very sensible, because this can actually be scaled. When VPPs grow to a certain size, all of a sudden we don't have to build a power station.
And I mention that you've got to start with having a fairly well-insulated and designed house. It really gets back to how well your house is set up. You've got to have insulation and energy saving measures in place to make your energy solution efficient.
One of the best things we hear from members is their individual stories about how their Plico solar + battery solution has positively affected their lives. As a proud West Australian company, stories like Craig’s inspire us to continue making solar + battery solutions affordable and accessible to as many West Aussies as possible.