The spark of inspiration for Farming the Sun was Jamie Reardon of AusEnergy. Jamie pitched an idea to Adam Blakester of Starfish about coordinating a ‘group-buy’ of a dozen or two residential solar power systems.
The idea arose at the same time that Starfish was mid-way through a large and participatory strategic planning process called the New England Sustainability Strategy, which identified a strategy for a ‘new energy future’.
Following discussions with a wide range of local organisations, residents and stakeholders it became clear that their interest was far and above two dozen solar power systems.
Instead, Farming the Sun launched in 2008 with the goal of reaching 1% of the residents of the Southern New England High Country ~ comprising Uralla, Walcha, Guyra and Armidale Dumaresq local government areas.
Over the next two years there were 479 systems installed (552kW of solar power, 137 solar hot water systems, 12 solar heating/cooling units) with a retail value of $6.7m. The project also included 140 Home Sustainability Assessments and organised training and accreditation for more than three-dozen tradespeople (electricians, plumbers and installers).
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