Bendigo Bank challenge over solar power

Bendigo Bank has challenged the big four banks to follow its lead and install rooftop solar panels.

Although Bendigo only rents, rather than owns, its Katoomba building, last year it took the plunge and invested in rooftop panels.

Its bills have plummeted, according to the bank’s treasurer, Mark Jarvis.

Sunny: The solar panels Bendigo Bank has installed on the roof of its rented Katoomba premises.

Sunny: The solar panels Bendigo Bank has installed on the roof of its rented Katoomba premises.

Costs are down more than 50 per cent, he said. Usage dropped in the October quarter from 57kWh to 33kWh.

“We were conscious that our bills were fairly high and we feel that Bendigo is a bank of a social conscience doing the right thing and we obviously wanted to reduce our carbon footprint, which we have done,” Mr Jarvis said.

Even though the bank didn’t own the building, it decided to install the solar panels, and was able to employ a local business, Aussie Solar, to do the job.

 Mr Jarvis said banks, which operated only in daytime hours, were perfect candidates for solar power. He called on the Commonwealth, ANZ, Westpac and NAB to follow suit.

“They should all be doing the same. We would like to put it out to people, if they are genuinely concerned about the environment, either support us [Bendigo] or pressure your bank.

“Not only is it sending the right message environmentally but commercially and financially it is as well.”

A Commonwealth Bank spokeswoman said: “There are no current plans to install solar panels to our branches in the Blue Mountains area, however we have committed to installing solar panels to the rooftops of 30 branches across Australia by the end of this financial year. We currently have 19 branches with solar panels on their rooftops.”

The ANZ said it also wasn’t considering panels on the Katoomba building, but added: “ANZ has already started to embrace on-site generation for our physical assets, including roof top solar, and we will continue to explore additional assets to which solar may be a feasible option across the 34 markets in which we operate.”

It has solar panel on its Melbourne headquarters, a data centre and some retail branches. It has also committed to increasing its consumption of renewable energy.

Westpac and NAB didn’t respond to the Gazette’s questions.