MASH – the campaign for More Australian Solar Homes – is a highly successful community solar bulk-buy for homes in Central Victoria. As of December 2018, over 1,200 households in the City of Greater Bendigo, Mount Alexander, Macedon Ranges and Hepburn Shires have chosen to go solar with MASH.
MASH started in mid 2014 as a project of the not-for-profit Hub Foundation in Castlemaine, with the aim of doing something practical to help cut CO2 emissions. In April 2018, ownership and management of MASH was transferred – with the good wishes of the Hub Foundation – to the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation based in Castlemaine that works across central and northern Victoria to support local government with climate change mitigation activities. MASH was recently recognised as an outstanding example of a community solar bulk-buy with an award from Environment Victoria.
MASH helps make solar simple
The MASH bulk-buy offers high quality solar PV systems and batteries, backed by solid warranties and installed according to best practice industry standards. It also provides great value, with competitive prices negotiated as part of the bulk-buy. The MASH supplier is selected through a competitive public tender process overseen by the Alternative Technology Association, ensuring that customers can trust the quality and value of what is being offered.
What’s more, there’s a ‘give back’ to the community in the form of free solar for community groups, kindergartens or schools in the region – around 5kW for each 100 solar rooftops installed.
MASH: Benefits to residents, communities and the environment
The level of interest and uptake for solar through MASH has been fabulous. Householders, in particular, seem to really get what MASH stands for – a way of buying a high quality solar and batteries at discounted prices from a trusted source, where there’s also a benefit to the local community.
Here is what MASH has achieved since September 2014, when the first installations took place:
- Over 1,200 new solar rooftops.
- Over 5.7MW of installed solar power capacity (around 20,000 solar panels).
- Household electricity bills cut by $1M each year.
- CO2 emissions cut by more than 9,000 tonnes each year (equivalent to around 1800 cars off the road).
- Eight free solar systems donated to schools and buildings used by community groups – with a total of around $70,000 raised for free solar for community groups and schools through our bulk-buys.
- Local jobs – as of December 2018 we currently have three local installers working full-time as well as around 6 people working locally on a part-time basis to provide customer service, administration and project management support.
- High levels of customer satisfaction
Supported by Local Councils and Sustainability Groups
"I'd been aware of the MASH bulk-buy for a number of year. So when I left my off-grid home in the Chewton Bushlands and moved into Castlemaine, one of the top things on my list was to increase my energy independence by installing solar and a battery."
"I like that the MASH project is community-based, provides economies of scale in terms of buying power. It was also useful to have the technology explained in laypersons language."
"I wanted to be supportive of the renewable energy push and in particular support the uptake of batteries in order to help more people become self-sufficient and not rely so much on the grid. Now with my MASH solar system and Tesla Powerwall 2 battery, I expect that 7-8 months of the year I will be self-sufficient in terms of my electricity needs."
“I had solar on my Melbourne home. When we moved to this property in Castlemaine, which is both our home and my art studio, I wanted to power the operation with solar. I have used solar power systems in my artworks to study the energy dynamics. It’s such a reliable and strong technology. Earth science is very clear that in order to maintain a reasonable environment, we must reduce our carbon emissions."
"The MASH info meeting at Castlemaine and was impressive. I could see that their research on components was very solid. I decided to invest in as a large a system as I could afford. I think in the future, decentralisation of power will become very important. With the large amount of sunshine in Central Victoria, the MASH system will be producing a lot of power very quickly."
"The installation was smooth. The MASH team installed a week early - and it took them only two and a half hours. Really impressive work."
“We’ve just moved from Melbourne to Castlemaine. Top of our list was to go solar so we could reduce our carbon footprint and cut our bills.
“Working out which solar company and panels to buy was really confusing. We like MASH because we’re confident that they have done the homework for us and researched the market properly. Also, we feel that there’s safety in numbers and MASH certainly has the scores on the board. The community aspect of MASH is also a great thing – how they-‘put back’ into our local community with free solar for schools and community groups.
“We went with a 5kW system even though most of the time there’s only two of us here. That’s because we’d like to move the house to all-electric over time and with a bigger system, we’re all set to install a battery when the prices come down a bit.
“We like MASH because we’re confident that they have done the homework for us and researched the market properly.”
“We had the system installed just over 3 months ago. Already we’ve noticed a big difference in our electricity bills. They were around $130 a month and now they’re less than half that.
“Basically, we reckon that if you’re going to do a tree change you might as well do it properly!”
Kerrie and Russell West, Castlemaine
My main reason for going solar is to be as green as possible. Solar energy is such a plentiful resource, the harvesting of which has no adverse impact on anything. For me, it's not about the money. I'd like to use much fewer non-renewable resources to minimise my environmental footprint.
My reasons for choosing MASH are: the economies of scale just make sense for everyone and I love the idea of being able to contribute to solar power for schools and community organisations that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it
Energy Matters - in fact, the same crew! - had installed a solar system at my previous house, and I found them responsible, efficient and friendly to deal with
"We have been thinking of going solar for ages. So when we heard about the Victorian State Government solar panels rebate it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.
We went with MASH because we like that the MASH supplier and solar systems have been endorsed by the Alternative Technology Association. We also like that MASH gives back to the local community with free solar for schools and community groups.
Our experience with the MASH solar supplier, Energy Matters, has been great - very smooth."
Photo, from L to R: Mike Wright, Buddy Norris, installers for the MASH project, with Carl Harvey
“One of our friends who’s involved in the Mt Alexander Sustainability Group referred us to MASH. We are very happy with the installation. The MASH installers spent time at the end showing us how the Tesla Powerwall app works so I rapidly got a handle on understanding the energy flows between the solar, the battery, home consumption and the grid. I have to admit that I’m finding it fascinating! I’m getting a really clear idea of how power is being used in our home and how the battery is contributing towards our energy requirements. It is surprising how quickly the battery recharges, even on cloudy days. So far we have not drawn on the grid for any electricity.”
It was a key decision point for us that MASH has such a strong community benefit, in terms of donating free solar to community groups and schools. We were going to get solar anyway, but hearing from Jo Kaptein at the MASH project that we'd probably be eligible for the new State Government rebate was like getting an early Christmas present. We're rapt!
“MASH is a fantastic initiative for our community. Council is proud to support this important program.”
“Hepburn Shire Council is pleased to be a partner of the Hepburn Solar Bulk-Buy program [the sister bulk-buy of MASH]. We are confident that the MASH organising team has done its homework thoroughly by going through a full public tender process to find the best possible solar suppliers with the best possible solar and battery systems.
We believe that this bulk-buy provides households and businesses in the Shire with high quality solar and battery systems that represent good value for money. There’s also a win/win for the community, with up to $20,000 in free solar for community groups should the bulk-buy achieve its target of 200 new solar rooftops in Hepburn Shire. We know that the bulk-buy will support local jobs. Any CEC Accredited local installers in the Shire are urged to get in touch with the MASH team if they would like to be involved as a sub-contractor carrying out installations for this bulk-buy program.”
“We are proud to partner with MASH to grow residential solar in 2018.
"For our shire to reach zero-net energy in the next couple of years we need as many households as possible to go solar. 19% of homes have already switched to solar and we hope that through this partnership we will become one of the leading shires in 2018.”
Council is pleased to be a partner of the MASH solar bulk-buy in the City of Greater Bendigo. We commend MASH to residents as it already has a track record of delivering high quality systems at competitive prices.
Solar can help cut your power bills and, with MASH, there is a strong community benefit too – a free community solar system for every 100 Bendigo homes installed.
"Council welcomes the MASH community solar bulk-buy in our Shire. Over 300 residents in Macedon Ranges have chosen to install a MASH system since November 2015. The program has been well-proven for its quality and value.
"It also delivers a tangible benefit to our community in the form of free solar systems for community run buildings for every 100 homes installed. We encourage residents interested in solar, including battery storage, to take a look."
"The uptake of MASH by households in Macedon Ranges is tremendous. We are pleased to continue our support of MASH as it enters this fourth exciting round which includes not only solar PV systems but also high quality battery storage at bulk-buy prices."
"We encourage anyone interested in going solar – from a brand new system to adding storage to your existing array – to consider MASH. The program is delivering tangible benefits for the people of the Macedon Ranges, our community and the environment."
"MASG is pleased to continue its support for the MASH solar bulk-buy as it enters its fourth round. MASH has proven to deliver high quality solar PV systems at competitive prices and has been responsible for a marked cut in CO2 emissions.
"We recommend that anyone looking to go solar – or add battery storage to their existing system – considers what MASH has to offer."
Is the CVGA (the organiser of MASH) making any money out of bulk-buy?
The not-for-profit Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA) receives a small commission on each installation in order to make a contribution towards the costs of marketing and administration of the MASH project.