Hepburn Shire Council - Special Rates Charge Program

Hepburn Shire Council has allocated funds to support Pension Card holders in installing solar panels, helping them to reduce their energy bills, keep cool in the summer and lower their household emissions. Solar Savers is the independent organisation that manages this program alongside Hepburn Shire Council and solar installer, Specialized Solar & Electrical.

What’s on offer?

A limited number of  households will be supported to install solar with no upfront costs. Instead, residents gradually pay for the cost of the solar system over 8 years (interest-free) through quarterly Council rates payments.

Who is eligible?

Residents living in Hepburn Shire Council who own their own home, have a Pension Card, and have a ‘solar ready’ home may be eligible to access the Special Rates Charge. There are many factors that influence the suitability of solar for a property so residents’ eligibility is determined through an enquiry and quoting process.

How do residents express interest?

To sign up to the program, or for more information, please contact Maroondah City Council which hosts Solar Savers on behalf of all participating councils, including the Hepburn Shire. You can contact them on 1300 88 22 33 or email info@solarsavers.org.au

About the Special Rates Charge program

Special rates charges are extra council charges added to some ratepayers’ quarterly rates payments. Councils use these charges to charge specific groups for special services that benefit them – such as repairs to their local footpaths or installing rooftop solar.

First, Solar Savers checks that solar is right for the household and that it will save them money. Next, they help arrange a quality solar system from a trusted and independently evaluated installer. 

Hepburn Shire Council then enacts a special rates charge which will mean that participating households can gradually pay off their solar system through rates payments, over 8 years. For the current program, this process will take place in the late 2023, with an anticipated installation by June 2024. Throughout the process and after the system is installed, Solar Savers is available to assist and answer any questions.

The special rates charge is attached to a property, not a person, so if a resident moves home after installing solar through this program, any remaining payments will get passed on to the next rate payer at the property.

To use a special rates charge, councils must follow rules in the Local Government Act. One of the rules is that councils must tell all ratepayers about the special rates charge. To do this your council will put a notice in the local paper and in its customer service centre. The notice at the customer service centre will have a list of all the Solar Savers addresses in your area, as well as the costs of their solar systems. Council will then meet to approve use of the special rates charge. The special rates charge process takes around 60 to 90 days to complete.