05 October 2016
by Primrose Riordan
Tesla batteries kept the telly on for 73-year-old unaffected by SA blackout
Seventy-three-year-old Brian Gillespie from South Australia's Eden Valley did not even realise there was a state-wide blackout last week.
"I'm a bit of a news freak so I tend to watch the local news on Channel Seven or Nine, then I watch first quarter of an hour or 20 mins of the world news on SBS and in the meantime I'm recording The Project," he said.
"It was lovely, the power went out everywhere and then we bounced back and in fact it was quite funny because we couldn't work out if the power had actually gone out or not because all of our lights are on one circuit, so we realised when we tried the oven light.
"We sat and watched television, we microwaved a meal, read a book and went to bed."
In some fortuitous timing, Mr Gillespie had a new Tesla Powerwall battery installed a few weeks ago to complement his solar panels. He said a year of "at least monthly" blackouts in his area was a "kick in the bum" and he decided it was time to take charge.
"In the country South Australia particularly we get power blackouts with monotonous regularity. I mean it's been particularly bad recently," he said.
He added that while he hopes to avoid power bills in the summer, it was the energy stability not the cost that was behind the decision to get the five-kilowatt system installed, offering 10 hours of off-the-grid power.
"Economically you probably couldn't say I'll get the money back but it's nice to know you're doing something [for the planet]."
Mr Gillespie is not the only one to have ridden through the storms, floods and blackouts with hot meals and a working TV.
James Graham, from solar and battery system installer Standard Solar, has 82 customers in South Australia, and has seen a surge in interest from the state since the storms.
"[South Australian customers] have changed their driving force behind the decision as well. Those who were looking for a financial solution from a battery system are now just looking for energy stability," he said.
Mr Graham installs Redflow's ZCell batteries, and GCL's lithium-ion 6-kilowatt batteries, which cost between $20,000-$25,000 for a residential household system.
While experts said the state-wide blackout was cause by damage to infrastructure due to a large storm, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has used the power crisis to call on state governments to cut their ambitious renewable energy targets in half and adopt the national target or risk further serious power network failures.
Following the blackout, solar companies are looking at ways batteries can be embedded on the fringes of the grid, so as to forestall costly network upgrades.
The bad weather is not over for South Australia with more rain forecast until Tuesday.