Power to the People: Brisbane forum hears how Australians could save $9 billion on power bills - Solar Citizens

Power to the People: Brisbane forum hears how Australians could save $9 billion on power bills

Community members, civil society and climate groups, and energy experts gathered in Brisbane in April 2024 to discuss Queensland’s energy transition, the key policies of the major parties and plans for community action in the lead-up to the October State election. 

Weren’t able to make it? Watch the Event Recording Video

During the event, Joel Pringle, acting CEO at Solar Citizens, said, “Queensland is both a global and international leader in rooftop solar, with more than 1 million rooftop solar installations.”

Joel outlined that new analysis released on on 14 April, commissioned by Solar Citizens and conducted by the Australian PV Institute at the University of NSW for Solar Citizens, revealed Australian households could save a massive $9.3 billion on energy bills each year by investing in the untapped solar potential of residential rooftops across the nation.

Power to the People Panel, Brisbane April 2024

“Around 60% of households are locked out of rooftop solar because they have low-incomes, are renting privately or in social housing or they live in apartments. The untapped potential of those rooftops is immense,” he said. 

“The untapped solar potential of Queensland households and apartments could save $1900 a year in power costs, generate an additional 1200 GWh of clean, cheap solar energy, and save about 170 megatonnes of carbon emissions over the lifetime of the solar system.  

“Cleaner, cheaper rooftop solar energy is a win for both energy bill relief and reducing climate pollution. 

“We welcome the Queensland Government announcement of a further $6 million investment in the Battery Booster program. The Australian Energy Market Operator has modelled that more than 200,000 household batteries will need to be installed in Queensland by 2030. The Battery Booster program is a modest start towards that goal, but is the biggest program Australia-wide towards the national target of one million household batteries by 2030,” said Joel.   

Philippa England, member of South East Queensland Community Alliance, and co-organiser of the event, told her zero-emissions story including why her and her ‘motor-enthusiast’ husband Mike have electrified their lives. It all started as Philippa and Mike set off on a 5,000 km road trip around Queensland in their new EV, which ended up costing them around $200 in ‘fuel’ bills! 

And because they were smiling so much after their trip, they decided they’d go green on everything, and have now installed household batteries to go with their rooftop solar and EV. 

“Last year in Queensland we spent $1.5 billion on cost-of-living savings – if we were to invest that in home batteries for all, the cost of living savings could be massive,” said Philippa.  


From the individual story, Anne Kennedy from Zero Emissions Noosa spoke about the importance of community level energy projects 

“As household solar is the largest renewable energy generator in the country, it highlights the important role that community energy groups and strong community advocates like Zero Emissions Noosa can play in pushing communities and governments towards a renewable future,” said Anne.  

“In 2016, the Noosa Shire council set a target for going net-zero by 2026, and Zero Emissions Noosa was formed in 2017 by some very passionate volunteers in the community who wanted to drive the council towards this target,” she said. 

“Will we get there? Well, no, but without an aspirational target, we won’t get anywhere!” said Anne.  

Zero Emissions Noosa has been pushing for solar for strata, and also leading the charge in Queensland for community energy resources – you can read more about their work on community batteries, here


Clare Silcock, Energy Strategist at Queensland Conservation Council, also speaking at the event said, “This is a critical year for climate action in Queensland”

“We’ve seen significant progress in the rollout of renewable energy in Queensland in the last few years but we need to make sure it’s done well, and the best way to do that is for people to get involved in managing their own energy use and pushing the government for strong climate action,” she said.  

“In the last five years, we’ve seen renewable energy jump from a 15% share of the state’s energy to 28% of the energy, and it’s really important Queensland shows the way of how we can transition to renewable energy,” said Clare.  

“There are genuine concerns about the impacts of renewables on biodiversity and on communities, so we must do better on our rollout of resources,” she said. “But it’s critical that we don’t stall the transition and remain stuck on fossil fuels.” 

“We need to improve our systems, including community batteries that can socialise the benefits of our daytime solar generation to local communities, and the benefits must also flow to renters,” said Clare.


At the National Level, Dr Vikki McLeod from Rewiring Australia said the solution for Australia is not as complex as we think. 

“Our analysis is pretty simple – electrify everything!” she said. “And have that all powered by renewable energy!

“Use all the available roof space for solar and PV to displace energy generated from a long way away – there is huge energy loss when it is transmitted a long way. Plus, locally generated energy is anti-inflationary – once the infrastructure is installed, the cost remains static,” she said.

In encouraging other groups to take the plunge, Vikki said “In terms of encouraging a community group, use positive neighbourhood effect, and show what’s possible.” 

Vikki explained how the benefits of energy generated within the community ensure that the dollars remain within the community. 

Read more on Rewiring Australia’s work here, or watch the recording for full presentations from all presenters. 

The future

The forum took place in an historic week, where the Queensland Government’s Clean Energy and Jobs legislation passed parliament, enshrining renewable energy targets and emission reduction legislation into law. On 18 April 2024, the Queensland Government passed landmark laws guaranteeing 80% renewable energy generation by 2035, and powerful emissions reductions targets of 75% reduction by 2035. Read more in our blog, here.

It was also the week that saw the Queensland Energy and Climate Minister Mick de Brenni announcing increased funds for the Battery Booster programme, meaning a further 1,000 households will benefit from subsidised batteries. 

The next 12 months is going to be absolutely critical for Queensland’s – and Australia’s – future. We must ensure there is bi-partisan support for these renewable energy and emissions reduction targets going forwards. 

Solar Citizens’ members, alongside allies, have been campaigning for expedited rollout of renewable energy resources for more than a decade, and we are calling for all sides of politics to include credible emissions reduction and renewable energy targets in Queensland and across Australia.


Weren’t able to make it? Watch the Event Recording Video, or read the write-up from ABC Radio Brisbane. 



  • Joel Pringle, Solar Citizens
  • Dr Vikki McLeod, Rewiring Australia
  • Clare Silcock, Queensland Conservation Council
  • Anne Kennedy, Zero Emissions Noosa
  • Phillipa England, SEQ Community Alliance
  • Dr Tom Dixon, Solar Citizens (moderator)