Kiwibank, the Warehouse and SolarCity launch solar power push with Warehouse vouchers and Kiwibank 'sustainable energy' loans

Kiwibank, the Warehouse and SolarCity launch solar power push with Warehouse vouchers and Kiwibank 'sustainable energy' loans

Kiwibank is launching "sustainable energy loans"- tied to home loans - to help people buy solar power systems provided by SolarCity from the Warehouse.

In a press release today the three companies said they were aiming to help New Zealand families instal solar power for as little as NZ$2.50 a day.

The initiative, dubbed "the Warehouse Solar Roof Shout" is aiming to instal 27,000 systems on rooftops to generate up to 65 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually, which the companies say is the equivalent of powering more than eight thousand homes. They say this would provide up to 30% of each homeowner’s energy use at a price below what they are currently paying for power.

The initiative comes with the government's plans to sell up to 49% of the shares in state owned electricity generators and retailers Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy on the back burner after the delay of the first float, Mighty River Power, from this year until at least March next year.

SolarCity solar power systems will be showcased in six Warehouse stores every weekend, starting today, reaching 42 stores across New Zealand over the next year, and offering a NZ$250 voucher for every system sold.

Meanwhile, Kiwibank’s "sustainable energy loan" will see the bank contribute up to NZ$2,000 towards the cost of financing each system installed. The companies said the Kiwibank loan would allow eligible customers to pay for their system as part of a Kiwibank home loan, with Kiwibank "kicking in" NZ$2,000 over four years.

"The sustainable energy loan can be included when you move your current home loan to Kiwibank, as a top-up on an existing Kiwibank home loan or on a new Kiwibank home loan. Kiwibank will contribute NZ$2,000 (over four years) towards the cost of the system and if you’re already a Kiwibank home loan customer, Kiwibank will waive the top-up fee."

Kiwibank’s lending criteria, terms and conditions, plus fees apply.

The information released by the three companies didn't mention anything about the cost of buying and installing a solar power system. However Brendan Winitana, chairman of the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand, recently told installation ranges from NZ$3,000 to NZ$4,000 per kilowatt, with the average size of installation about 3.5 kilowatts.

"The price of electricity has increased by 84% in the past ten years and many of our communities are struggling to pay their power bills," the Warehouse CEO Mark Powell said.

“New Zealand has plenty of sunshine so we want to educate Kiwis about solar power, and help make it more affordable for families," Powell added.

He said having SolarCity experts in different Warehouse stores around the country would help people understand how to reduce energy costs.

SolarCity CEO Andrew Booth said research showed upfront costs were the most common barrier to people adopting solar power. The Kiwibank loan and the Warehouse voucher would help people enjoy the financial benefits of solar immediately.

"SolarCity's standard Panasonic solar power system has a 25-year power output guarantee, so once the system is paid off, it will generate free power for decades," said Booth.

(Update adds additional detail).

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Having done a solar system before I would suggest you look at the charges and shop around, even online for overseas bargains. There are a lot of unwanted solar panels sitting in warehouses from China to here, and can be had for a song.

SolarCity will be hoping to coin it off the more gullible shoppers out there.
Having said that, there has been a sea change in the last 10 years in regards to solar energy and done properly a good solar system will actually add value to your property. Just be careful - when solar comes to town the cowboys come with it, hoping to make a fast buck in an unregulated industry. By the time the government catches on a lot of people have lost a lot of money.

Also another word of advice - avoid putting panels on your roof if possible - unless the installer has a great system that doesn't involve drilling holes in your iron roof, it will eventually cause leaks. If you have the space an array of panels on a stand in the garden somewhere is better, one which lets you adjust the angle once a season for the best angle to the sun is ideal. Trackers are now too expensive compared to the cost of a few more panels on a stand.


SolarCity will be hoping to coin it off the more gullible shoppers out there.
You are so onto it.
The statement below is a classic we are about to take Kiwis to the cleaners feel about it. There should be laws against this type of false promotion campaign aimed at clearing unwanted excess stock at the wrong price.
In a press release today the three companies said they were aiming to help New Zealand families instal solar power for as little as NZ$2.50 a day.

Cheers Stephen. I've done a bit of quick research - there is nothing about this 'deal' I could find on The Warehouse website, and the SolarCity website has no more details about the it than the promo blurb you can read here. The system they are spruiking appears to be a 1.84kW Panasonic PV.
Somewhat tellingly, I can't find any mention of a price for this installation. The SolarCity website is rather fact-free when it comes to their solar PV. A quick check on Trademe gets me 1.9kw pv with a grid-tie inverter for about $5000. Add an MMPT charge controller and some wiring and that's another $500ish, and some kind of mounting kit (couldn't find one on TM) and maybe some pc interface monitoring thing if you want to know how much you are saving. I'd be planning on getting it all up for under $6k.

Any more than that plus a few hundy for installation and you are being ripped. I'd also be trying for cheaper kit from either Ebay or some US or Chinese solar firm liquidating...

I couldn't find anything on the Warehouse website either. I've asked for some more detail but am still waiting to hear back.

I think the USA have banned chinese made units so there should be a lot on the market with no home.....hence I'd have expected or expect a price collapse.
Im interested though so I'll see the numbers and work it out.
Your semi-right on not having it on the roof if practical, dodges building consents if nothing else that could save hundreds and make it cheaper to install. Im actually thinking that putting in a 10sqm metre shed with the roof as its platform, I dont thuink then you need any planning permission in that case. I wouldnt think corrosion would be a serious issue myself.

Yeah, the the biggest chinese manufacturer is Suntech. Read somewhere the USA has squeezed them and Suntech are now in trouble. So there will be a lot of supply available. Just dont expect Suntech to be still around in 25 years time to honour any warranty claims, so you want a really good price. The warehouse offering is Panasonic which should be ok. So long as it is Panasonic.

BBC news last night told of Europe accusing China of 'dumping' (or something similar) solar panels at very low cost in Europe.  They apparently are considerable cheaper than the ones the Germans make and the Germans are crying 'foul'. BBC said Europe is China's largest market for solar panels.

@Ivan yeah I suspect none of the Warehouse stores in Wellington will be rushing to put up a display... :-)

You dont need sunlight, just daylight. Get best performance on crystal clear cool days, but you get more total production with longer daylight hours in summer.

capped at $2k. Oh the generosity!

Here in QLD, one downside effect of everyone jumping into the solar band wagon is loading on the electricity grids.  Energex, the line company hads noted the increasing load on their grids.  The grid was initilaly designed to deliver electricity from generator to households, now it is having electricity going the other way as well.  Soon or later they will have to upgrade and pass the cost on to consumers.

Moa  URL? also seperate out reality from hype and PR spin.  Just because a vested interest tells you its an issue and wants an excuse to "upgrade" and charge more doesnt mean its truthful or justified.
However in canada apparantly there is a waiting list for housholds wanting to feed into the grid, the grid simply doesnt need any more power....
Also consider that this would be a grid only upgrade, no more generating plant would be needed its just in the "wrong" place so needs "moving".  So there are pluses as well as minuses. 

It's a well discussed topic here in QLD..  If you signed up early you can sell back for 44c Kwh while buying electricity at 22c Kwh.  My parents had a 5Kw systems installed, they haven't had a power bill for two years and currently on $450 credit!!!  Now the buy back rate is 8c/Kwh
The Australian published an analysis on this topic but there is no free-lunch on The Australian website (Rupert's place).  You have to pay to read the article.. 

Meredian currently offer to pay you for any energy you feed back to the grid at parity with what they charge, although they do state that they only do because they are being nice and may discontinue that at any time, so I wouldn't base any financial plans on it.
sigh NZ is so backwards sometimes. Instead of sink-big electricity projects we could all (with a few subsidies or interest-free loans) be feeding power back into the existing grid and remove some of the more environmentally unfriendly dams. Of course the Hamiton boges would have to find somewhere else to ride their jetski's with Karapiro gone, and Huntly would no longer be required (both the power station and the town) but those are small prices to pay.

I agree with your sentiments, re encouraging alternative energy; and Huntly. Its an interesting perspective on dams. I understand building them can be very disruptive, even destructive, environmentally, but I had blissfully assumed the NZ dams, now built, were relatively benign environmentally, and actually create some spectacular mini lakes. Its hypothetical I know, as presumably noone would actually deconstruct any, but would doing so help the environment? Just interested.

Isn't the Roxburgh dam going to be demolished? because of sedimentation 

Out of all the methods of generating power Hydro is the least environmentally damaging (well apart from thorium based nuclear power, but thats an argument for another day :-) but the effects on fish migrations and spawning are often catastrophic (fishastrophic?) due to the vast majority of trout not being able to leap several hundred metres out of the water to get up over the dam. Short of genetically engineering them to do so (which would be make for an awesome spectacle, and standing on the top of the dam playing 'catch' would be a fun way to catch a fish supper*), there are ways to assist them past the dams which I think NZ does to some extent. How successful this is I don't know.

Yeah you get some handy lakes although these aren't very safe or environmentally friendly due to most species in NZ (including humans) not being able to survive being thinly diced by a large turbine after being sucked in through the intake pipe (think soggy Maccas fries with lots of ketchup) and I don't even think genetic engineering can assist with that one. Of course no-ones going to mourn the loss of a few bogans and their jetskis getting minced but apparently it damages the turbine blades so they have to keep them at a safe distance away from the intake.

And those lakes are covering some great bits of land, bush, and waterfalls, which is a bit of a tradeoff. If they were no longer required then I would like to think that restoring those little bits of NZ back to how they originally were would help wth the Clean Green NZ theme so loved byour tourism industry (even if it is a pile of bollocks - we pollute as much as everyone else, there are just so few of us. But that's an argument for another day :-) And the fish would thank you. If they could talk (more genetic engineering required).

*There are some downsides to this approach, not the least being that any time you were near a lake there would be the chance you could get hit by a trout flying at you at 100kmh

NB trout isnt native so they shouldnt matter...

In a small world story, I remember meeting a very old Scottish bloke who was one of the pioneers of building steps up the sides of dams, so that fish could easily enough get back up. These actually sound easier to me than jumping up say Huka Falls, even though fish clearly manage to do that somehow. The dams also had simple systems as I understood it, to stop the fish being filleted on the way down. I assume most if not all NZ dams have these simple systems; otherwise Lake Taupo would be rather short of fish.

Dams are not environmentally un-friendly when you start to look at the total contxt. You need to consider the costs of numerious small plant running in-efficiently and often the exotic / rare  materials they use.
If there is a subsidy someone somewhere is paying for it and its usually the poor end of incomes paying the most, I really dont think middle and upper class welfare is needed which is what buying at above rates is.
Meridian's offer is actually quite generious, they save on the transmission losses so both parties gain.

Ours comprises stainless steel, copper, pyrex glass, polystyrene insulation.

44cents is/was silly, 8cents is far more realistic and terms of what a generator charges.

Aust doesn't have hydro power - mostly coal fired power generators..
I guess that's one way to reduce the carbon emmission but it's more like auntie Julia dangling a carrot on voters.  Some states still paying 25c/Kwh

If you installed in 2008-2009 in Victoria the FIT is 66c per KwH locked in till 2024.


It's a long and sorry saga. When Labor gained power in 2007, that power went to Kaptain Krudds head, and when he returned from Copenhagen he was going to show the world how it was done, and they set out Four schemes, particularly the renewable energy sheme, because 90% of all energy is coal fired power and heavy emitters

  • Every taxpayer received a $900 stimulus cheque in the mail (good one)
  • The pink batts in every home scheme (a disaster)
  • The BER Building Education Revolution - a new hall in every school (a disaster)
  • And a PV $8000 subsidy for every home who wanted it - means tested to incomes less than $80,000
  • Plus a Feed-in-Tarrif that varies state by state.

Today 20% of all homes in Australia have taken it up. The subsidy has been reduced substantially, but more contoversial has been the Feed-in-Tariffs. At first they were 30c Kwh, then 40c Kwh, and then 60c Kwh, and finally pushed up to 66c Kwh in Victoria and NSW. But the Distributors werent happy and they have lobbied the state governments, and for anyone installing after 2009 the FIT has been reduced until it is now down to 8c KwH for anyone installing now. No incentive at all. In fact a dis-incentive. But heck it's a bit more than the 2c KwH that RIO/Alcan/Alcoa aluminium plants are paying for generated and distributed electricity.

You mock Kevin Rudd - The Peoples Politician.... how very dare you!

Yes I'd like to see it here, its not that hard.....some balance is probably needed, in the UK, Canada and it sems OZ the sell was obscenely high, crazy. When you are remote it also means your community has more than one source....

I have recently signed up to a 5KW on-grid floor mounted system in ChCh.
A very good price (and I even had prices from China for the panels I wanted).
Just do your homework...

Nice going Tony. Are you willing to tell is what the very good price actually is? I'd be interested to know. Cheers.

May be it makes sense not to search for the cheapest, but for the best possible. There are quite some improved and different options now in the making:;Semico...

I am still waiting for the contract from meridian to guarentee to buy the power from an on-gid system for at least 5 years (I originally asked for 10)...

"The pricing and fixed terms for small scale generation are still being reviewed.

This is my last day in the Energy Centre and will be unable to update you once the review is completed. You will be able to view this information on our website,"

So be VERY careful; if you think selling to the Elec Suppliers is guarenteed as they are dragging the chain on this one.
Your justification would evaporate overnight if they dont sign and suddenly refuse to buy it...

I live in the hope that one day, the government might leap into this century and force the utilities to offer some sort of tariff back to people who feed into the grid.

Given that it has been done just here in Australia with varying results as mentioned above - it wouldn't be difficult to work out what worked and what didn't in Oz and extrapolate that to the NZ market.

*sigh* and they still wonder why we are all leaving?

I naively hope Meridian wiill do the right thing and provide a "lock in contract" as requested... 
The goverment, looking down the barrel of going "Greek", has WAY bigger problems...
I did propose years back that the Govt. limited the allowed growth of Electricity producution by the providers. This would produce the many flow-on effects including handing out low-energy bulbs, insualting people homes, etc. as the penalties would be far higher that doing this! FORCING the generators to be be pro-active... 
Any private generation or "renewbale" would either "net off" (for incentivisating private generation) OR not count against the cap for stuff done by the producer.
But do you really think any gaoverment would be that intelligent (especailly as they just want to sell the assets).
In fact I honestly beleive the Goverments are only as stupid as the biggest lobbyists...

just a thought , if you were to install a system on your roof , unless you have a flat one you will need to setup edgeware protection (or at mininum be harnessed) because it is illegal to work at heights without it now . That might help you spot the cowboys from someone who won't cause damage to your roof... also sounds like a hidden cost could be a roofer if you don't have spare tiles or sheets ... 

Only a few days after i said not to trust the govt over tarriffs; here we go...
DONT SIGN UP without a contrat in place for at least the buy back period to justify it.
Meridian, probably the best elec company in the worldare working on such a contract.