Australia is a world leader in per-capita deployment of rooftop solar PV with more than three million households realising benefits including reduced energy bills and improved energy security. However, these benefits are unevenly distributed. Research shows First Nations residents of public housing in remote Australia using prepay metering experience frequent ‘self-disconnection’ from energy services, a known indicator of energy insecurity. Upfront capital costs and an absence of local regulations codifying the ability to connect solar PV have long locked out these households from realising benefits of energy transition in regions host to world class renewable energy generation potential. This article describes early experiences of those residents among the first to install and grid-connect rooftop solar to prepay in Australia’s remote Northern Territory. In addition to reduced electricity expenditures, rooftop solar PV mitigates experiences of energy insecurity through reducing the incidence of involuntary ‘self-disconnection’ due to inability to pay. Support for rooftop solar for prepay households can alleviate frequent exposure to disconnection, bringing multiple co-benefits. Policy responses should focus on reducing barriers to realising the benefits of rooftop PV for priority communities, including First Nations families living in public housing using prepay.
(2023) Connected: rooftop solar, prepay and reducing energy insecurity in remote Australia, Australian Geographer,