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You can now buy solar power like you do traditional power

For the first time you can now buy solar power just like you do traditional power, except it's coming off your roof.

Solar power uptake has so far been slow in New Zealand mostly due to the large upfront installation costs. But a Christchurch company is turning that on its head.

It's not costing Michael Peterson's to install solar panels at his Christchurch home.

"Being able to get into it without having to put one cent down, it became a bit of no brainer for me," he says.

Mr Peterson is the first in New Zealand to take part in a new $25million venture by the country's largest solar power company, Solarcity, where the company pays for the panels and then charges the home owner for the solar generated power.

"We're covering all the capital costs and building a power station roof by roof," says Andrew Booth from Solarcity.

The 10 to $15,000 price tag of the solar panels is a huge barrier for many but once installed the solar energy is free to produce.

Solarcity recovers its costs by charging homeowners a fixed monthly fee for the solar generated power which it says will be less than your current power bill.

Mr Peterson thinks he'll save around $20 per month by having the system.

This business model is how the majority of solar power users in North America get their energy. It works for Mr Peterson because he works from home, but it's not for everyone.

"Our very simple advice is do your sums very carefully because the impact and the benefit depends on who you are. Are you at home during the day? Do you have kids at home during the day? Just do your sums, says Mike Underhill from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

At the moment solar energy can't actually be stored so once it gets dark home owners will have to revert to being back on the grid, meaning users will still receive some form of traditional power bill.

So far around 4,500 New Zealand households have opted to go solar. Solarcity is aiming to double that in two years.

In an NZ first, a homeowner is taking part in a new venture by company Solar City. Source: 1 NEWS


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