Who will give me advice about how to use my energy better in my home or business?

Starling Energy Group is the owner of the Plico Energy brand and will assist you with education about how to use your energy more effectively. You will also be able to monitor your own energy use on the Portal App, empowering you to take control of your energy use.

Who organises approvals from Western Power and Synergy?

Starling Energy Group will arrange all approvals for installations.

Who will be installing the systems?

Local installers have been trained on how to install the Plico System by the Starling Energy Group management team.

When will installations begin?

Installations are expected to begin in Sept/Oct 2019.  Our operations and management team will be coordinating with our members. You will be contacted to arrange installation.

Has this project received professional legal advice?

Yes. SUSI uses International law firm Ashurst for their contractual arrangements with both Plico Energy and Starling Energy Group.

Plico Energy uses law firm Jackson MacDonald regarding the contract document and overall company structure. We have spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure Plico Energy has expertise and advice that will enable success for many years to come.

Can I buy out the system under this contract?

Yes. We understand circumstances change, which is why our contract offers flexible exit options.  One of these is a buyout clause.  The buyout fee reduces annually over 10 years from $12,500 to zero at the end.  During that time – your system is fully maintained and serviced and working to save you money. With an opportunity to help your local community, as well as the future of the planet, why would you ever consider going back to traditional climate harming energy sources?

Can I exit the contract?

Yes. We understand circumstances change, which is why our contract offers flexible exit options.  In addition to our buyout clause, our contract is fully transferable to the new owners if the property is sold. More information in relation to our exit clauses is fully detailed in the contract documents.

I’m building a house and it won’t be finished until after July 2020. What happens?

This is not a problem – you can sign up now and it won’t cost you anything until you are ready for installation.  Our contracts are for 10 years and are grouped together as a “project”.  We will continue to roll through 10-year cycles.  At the end of 10 years, our funding partner SUSI will exit the project and the assets will become part of the community-owned business – which our members become shareholders in.

What will happen if I stop paying the $36.50 per week?

Firstly, please contact us if you’d like to discuss your options. The contract document clearly details the procedure that will be taken to manage non-payment including parameters for significant life events.

If there is not a significant life event and you have simply decided to stop paying, Starling Energy Group can virtually disable your inverter from providing you with renewable energy. The inverter and battery will also be removed from the house.

I’ve lost my job and I’m having trouble paying my bills. What can I do?

As part of our company values of community first, we have set up a Utilities Support Fund to help participants in financial hardship.

Payments are paid to help prevent delinquency on the contract agreement. Once you are back on your feet, you will be required to pay the total amount paid back to the Utilities Support Fund so other participants can use it when needed.

You should contact your community energy team as soon as you know you will have difficulty making payments.

I’m renting, can I sign up?

Absolutely. You will need to seek permission from the homeowner for their approval to have the system installed.

The homeowner will need to have their name on the contract, as they will need to continue to make weekly payments if you decide to move out. The homeowner can simply increase your rent by $36.50 per week.

What happens if I sell my house or business?

We would encourage the payment of the system will be included in the total selling price, so the new owners can take over the remainder of the contract agreement. Otherwise the system can be bought out at the point of selling your home.

If you’re looking at setting up Plico Energy at your new home or business premises, please contact us to discuss your options.

If a system costs $15,000-18,000 why am I paying more over 10 years?

This is a managed service agreement, which means over the ten-year contract period the upfront cost, as well as services and replacements, are all factored into the weekly price.

Other items included in the service agreement:

  • Installation
  • Replacement battery and inverter
  • Maintenance and repair services
  • Virtual Power Bank operational services
  • Community Fund profits

Our VPP Service Agreement model is not just a pay-it-back arrangement; we want to ensure there are no ‘surprise’ costs associated with the system.

Vital services are necessary for the VPP to operate. Once SUSI’s investment has been returned, the contract fees will reduce to simply cover the running costs, minus the income produced, with the community owning the VPP entity.

Will I save money on my energy bill? If so, how much?

The amount of money you can save is dependent upon your energy use. On average, you should be able to save 80-90% on your energy bill.  As a rough guide, we say that the numbers start to make financial sense if your bill is greater than $300.

Plus, you’ll have access to the portal app, which will allow you to review and adjust your energy use in real-time rather than waiting for a bill at the end of a certain period.

But, Plico Energy is more than just saving people money. It’s about empowering communities to take control of their energy use, ending our reliance on coal and creating a better sustainable future.

Will I get two bills or one?

You will receive two bills:

  • A weekly direct debit to Plico Energy
  • A Synergy supply bill, which you will receive via post or email (whatever your account preference states)

Do I still receive bills from Synergy or Western Power?

As a West Australian resident you will still pay for supply charges from Synergy, approximately $1 per day. If you are a household exporting excess energy to the grid as part of Synergy’s Renewable Energy Buyback System (REBS), Synergy will often take the amount owed to you off your supply charges. Unfortunately, businesses cannot participate in the REBS scheme.

Do I remain connected to the electrical grid?

Yes, as this enables us to provide the services to the grid as a Virtual Power Plant.

When do you start paying $36.50 per week?

You begin your direct debit payments once the Plico System is ready to be installed to your home or business.

All registrations require a $292 up-front fee, two months advance payment, which is required at the time of signing the Plico Energy contract.  If for any reason your installation does not eventuate, your $292 will be refunded.

This is not an additional cost and it is not a bond; it is simply to ensure future payments do not fall behind and to cover administrative costs.

Do I need to clean the solar panels?

Usually a heavy rain will clean your panels, however if we identify your system is having issues we might suggest a quick clean.

With everybody having the same system, it’s easy for us to pinpoint if any households or businesses are under performing and act quickly to rectify.

Shadows can affect your panel efficiency, but we can help you manage this. Tree shading can be managed by regular pruning of trees around the house.

How can I see how much energy I’m producing?

The Plico System is linked up to a portal app, which you can access from your desktop computer or smart device.

The app provides information on your energy use in your home via easy-to-read graphs and data. This enables you to educate yourself on what is happening in your home and adjust your behavior or appliances in real-time to save money and energy.

Is the system rated for extreme conditions?

The solar panels we use have a cyclone rating, work well in hot conditions and the smart-hybrid inverter is weather rated for outside use. These systems are used in northern WA in regions that are subject to severe weather patterns.

Can the inverter be installed on the outside of my house?

Definitely. The system is weather rated for outside use, however we do recommend that you install it in a garage or under a protected eave to limit any damage to ensure longevity.

Can I get all black panels?

You can get all black panels, they are slightly more expensive than the ones we use but because they look so good, we are hoping to get a good deal on bulk buying the black panels.

If I already have solar can I still sign up to Plico Energy?

Potentially, depending on the age of your panels.  Have a chat to our team about your options.  We don’t sell stand-alone batteries but can happily chat with you about your circumstances.

Western Power has told me that I can’t have more solar on my roof. What can I do?

Western Power have some limitations on solar export if the roof area is constrained in any way. However the smart-hybrid inverter and battery solution can overcome a lot of these problems.

It will be Starling Energy Group’s job to discuss this with Western Power and assist with approvals for your home.

How many solar panels is 6.6kw?

It is between 22 and 24 panels on your roof.

Who developed the Plico System?

Starling Energy Group has worked had to identify and research products and suppliers who we believe will be able to deliver the best outcomes for our customers.  The products we select are required to have 10-year warranty.  Where possible, we have selected Australian based businesses or equipment driven by Australian IP.

The business concept and model of a community-owned, battery-driven virtual power plant has been developed in conjunction with energy experts, legal teams and our sustainable investment partner, SUSI Partners.

The smart hybrid Inverter we have selected is owned, designed and developed in Australia out of the University of Queensland by Redback Technologies’ engineers, while their staff in China oversee the production line.

This is the same production model that worldwide tech phenomena Apple undertakes, where Redback Technology manages its own supply chain on the components of the inverter, as well as their own quality assurance and quality control.

Our panels are Tier 1 panels from Suntech.  All components of our system are sourced through our supply partner, Sonepar – a business to business distributor of electrical products, solutions and related services who have been around for 50 years.

What happens to the profits made by the Virtual Power Plant?

When profits come back to Plico Energy, the community – through their local Project Committee – will decide how they will use these additional funds. This is called the Community Fund.

What happens to the solar energy I produce?

Plico Energy is about empowering you to produce and use your own energy.

The goal is to consume as much of your own renewable energy as possible, ending your reliance on coal-powered energy. And there are so many benefits of switching to greener energy:

  • Less pressure on the grid, making it more reliable and blackouts less likely
  • Better reliability during peak energy times (5am-9am, 5pm-10pm)
  • Any excess energy can be sold back to Synergy as part of the Renewable Energy Buyback System (REBS) – that’s more money in your pocket!

If you are a household, you are permitted to export excess energy back into the grid, of which Synergy will pay you 7c per kwh. Unfortunately, businesses are unable to participate in the REBS scheme.

Will Plico Energy become a retailer in the future?

It isn’t possible for us to become a retailer due to current WA regulations; however, this is not our main goal for Plico Energy anyway.

Our main priority is to provide households and businesses access to up to 90% renewable energy. Secondly, we want to offer a valuable infrastructure service to the current electrical grid.

These two objectives are far more important for us to assist in the transition to a more renewable future. As community members ourselves, we’re passionate about always being on the community’s side. Should retail contestability become a viable option, it’s our ambition to act as a buyer’s advocate and negotiate with all retailers to get the best deal for your energy.

What do I get as a Plico member?

Each standard installation* includes:

  • 5KVA Redback Inverter System
  • 6.6kW Suntech 275w Solar PV (Photovoltaics) Panels
  • 7.2 kW Pylontech (LiFePo4) Battery

As part of your package, you will also receive:

  • Equipment installation
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Upgrades (as required)
  • Operation Centre monitoring and advice
  • Ongoing education on energy use
  • Access to the Redback Energy Portal (desktop and smart device)
  • Contribution towards Community Fund Projects

Who is Starling Energy Group?

Starling Energy Group is responsible for managing the Virtual Power Plants, operations management, installations, engineering, procurement and construction.

Read more…

Who is SUSI?

SUSI Partners is a Swiss infrastructure fund manager specialising in sustainable investments supporting the energy transition.

Read more…

Can I purchase a battery/inverter up front, but still be part of the Virtual Power Plant?

  • Unfortunately, no. We offer a service contract that provides installation and ongoing management and servicing of your system.  As the business grows, we anticipate adding additional components that will add value to your system and be of benefit to our members.

    As a Plico member you receive:

    • On-going education sessions
    • Replacement parts (Inverters, control system and batteries)
    • Access to an Operations Service Centre
    • Contributions towards Community Fund projects

What are the benefits of a Virtual Power Plant versus doing it by yourself?

There’s power in numbers! We know one person has little chance to change the future of energy, but a large movement has a far better chance.

Being a large community energy movement allows us to negotiate with utility authorities and Government regulators as one body.

Psychologically and literally, we have more power together. The more Plico people, the more renewable our grid becomes.

What is a Virtual Power Plant? 

A Virtual Power Plant (VPP) is a network of solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery systems working together to generate and store energy. This allows participating households and businesses to achieve 90% renewable energy consumption and end reliance on the traditional grid.

The systems are connected by advanced aggregation and control software that was developed by Australian engineers.

With 1,000-plus households and businesses involved in the movement, the VPP can provide 6.5MW of solar at peak, 7.6GWH of energy per year and displace 7KT of carbon emissions (CO2-e) every year.

However, the real value of a VPP is about supporting regional infrastructure reliability, voltage issues and reducing energy peaks.

Read more…

How can I get involved?

We’re currently accepting members to the Plico movement – building a community-owned, battery-driven Virtual Power Plant. Depending on numbers, we expect installations to commence roll out from Spring 2019.  Currently, we have over 50 pilot systems installed across WA.

Once you have joined the movement, our Plico people will be in contact with the next steps.  If you are ready to get started, simply head over and complete this form.  This kicks off the process and once submitted, a contract will be sent for your review.

Is there any risk of bankruptcy?

As opposed to other projects with varying levels of debt finance, Plico Energy is based on equity funding from our investor SUSI. Therefore, it is unlikely that our movement will run into difficulty.

This is because equity funding is paid in dividends and can only be paid in any year by CEPCO when sufficient funds are available.

Plico Energy will continue to be reviewed by a Board of Directors and subject to normal Australian accounting and governance principles. As a result, we have established an accountable and transparent structure with clear responsibilities to the consumer as well as our Investor.

 

Who makes up Plico Energy?

We are a professional team made up of experts from the energy, building and construction, finance, accounting and governance, legal and resource sectors. All members from Plico Energy, SUSI and Starling Energy Group have years of experience in the energy industry.

Our financial investor, SUSI Partners, is a highly ethical Swiss infrastructure fund manager specialising in sustainable investments supporting the energy transition. They have invested in extensive legal, commercial and technical Due Diligence in order to make this investment.

Our legal documents have also been created by a well-respected law firm, Jackson Macdonald, in Perth.

Do you have a maximum sign-up number?

In short, no. There is no physical cap with both SUSI and Starling Energy Group providing a strong financial structure to ensure the movement is very scalable and not dependent on local subsidies or conditions.

I don’t live in Dunsborough or Yallingup, can I still sign up?

Yes, we are now accepting households and businesses throughout the Perth metro area and the South West.  Our project kicked off in Dunsborough and we are now expanding across the state with ops centres in Dunsborough and Perth.