Solar Power Sparks Hope for New Beginnings at Geelong Women’s Centre

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House of Hope

House of Hope, a new live-in facility for women seeking drug and alcohol rehabilitation support, and one of only two of its kind in Victoria, today unveiled a new donated 30kW state-of-the-art solar system projected to save around $1,000 a month on running costs.

Led by Australian Women in Solar Energy (AWISE), in conjunction with leading solar manufacturers REC Solar and Enphase Energy, and installed by local company, Vortex Electrical, the donated 85-panel system will provide most of the daytime electrical power required to run all House of Hope’s operations.

Expected to begin housing women in early 2024, House of Hope is driven by Geelong-based not-for-profit, Foundation 61. The facility aims to accommodate up to eight women and will feature a dedicated children’s play area, education room and wellbeing facilities. House of Hope will also feature two family rooms where women can stay with their pre-school children for six months or longer.

With comparable private facilities costing patients up to $10,000 per month, Foundation 61 Founder and CEO Rob Lytzki said House of Hope will run entirely on philanthropic and community support through grants & donations, and the cost to patients is 85 percent of their fortnightly Centrelink benefit. This makes savings on electrical running costs invaluable.


“The gift of solar energy could mean the difference between the centre self-sustaining or struggling to a standstill,” he said. “Savings from the new solar system will enable us to meet the costs of almost a quarter of our paid support staffing requirements. For us, this gift is an operational lifeline that makes House of Hope viable,” he added.

Local Geelong resident and a founding member of Australian Women in Solar Energy (AWISE), Sophie Wright initiated the solar project nationally. AWISE was established to support women in the solar industry as well as driving projects to support women in local communities.

“I was completely blown away by the backstory of House of Hope and Foundation 61 in Geelong. They have previously founded a men’s rehabilitation centre in Geelong and now want to do the same for women,” said Sophie. “AWISE is passionate about supporting women, so donating a solar system for House of Hope and coordinating its installation through my work with Vortex Electrical, is a way that we can really help this project,” she said.

“Solar is such a valuable gift because the savings continue well into the future, particularly as the Victorian Default Market Offer – the benchmark price for electricity – has just increased by 30 per cent,” she said. “As a fully electric site, energy bills are one of the significant overheads. By utilising the energy from the sun we can keep these as low as possible which in turn means that the House of Hope can channel their funds into running their programs.”

To ensure House of Hope received a safe and reliable solar system, with a long-life span and industry-leading 25-year warranty, AWISE approached top-end solar panel manufacturer REC and world leading microinverter manufacturer, Enphase Energy.

Enphase donated 85 IQ Microinverters, which pair seamlessly with REC panels to deliver panel-level monitoring, greater performance and maximum reliability.

For REC, the donation was made as part of the company’s REConstruct program, originally set up four years ago to support bushfire recovery, now broadened to include social support.

REC country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Gus Paviani said: “We didn’t hesitate for a moment when Sophie asked us to donate solar panels for House of Hope. We’re big supporters of the work of AWISE and we love that this initiative is about women helping women.”

Patrick Matweew, Vice President and General Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Enphase Energy said: “We’re incredibly proud to support House of Hope alongside AWISE, helping to build stronger communities for women whilst promoting diversity in clean energy.”

Rob Lytzki believes the need for House of Hope in Geelong is far greater than the eight-bedroom facility currently being built.

“We could build this facility three times bigger, however a live-in centre like House of Hope is very expensive to run. Therefore, we are very appreciative of REC, Enphase, Vortex Electrical and AWISE for their generous solar gift as it will help us concentrate on giving women who have had it tough a chance to rebuild their lives and get back into society,” he said.

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