Client Case Study: Pingala

Businesses establishing themselves in emerging sectors can face unchartered waters when navigating the tax implications of new products.

Pilot Partners is no stranger to these challenges. Pilot has the knowledge and expertise to help businesses across all sectors, including working with emerging sectors such as renewable energy, to help get projects off the ground in the most commercially viable manner, and to provide clarity on taxation matters.


Pingala is a non-profit organisation with a strong history in renewable energy.  Their vision is a fairer energy system where communities are empowered to collectively own and operate their own local renewable energy, while creating jobs, keeping local business local, and sharing the benefits of the transition to renewable energy.

Pilot’s association with Pingala began when Pilot was engaged by a project partner of Pingala’s to obtain a private ruling. When Pingala then required assistance with a product ruling, they engaged Pilot’s expertise. Pilot assisted with the lodgement of an application with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to help provide certainty around the tax consequences of new products for Pingala and their project participants. These tax rulings are also often required to achieve milestones for recipients of grant funding, a common source of capital for developing, and building new products.

Managing the relationship with Nigel Hancock from Pingala was Murray Howlett, a Director at Pilot.

“Pilot is currently helping Pingala seek certainty for the tax treatment of our new product through applying for an ATO product ruling. This will help us to meet the required milestones for grant funding as well as help our community members have greater certainty when assessing our project’s benefits to them” said Nigel.

Murray said that there can be uncertainty in the tax outcomes of emerging sectors, particularly when they overlap with private use, such as Pingala’s community solar energy and solar gardens.

“In these cases, we will engage with the tax office to obtain a product ruling which provides clarity and assurance for stakeholders and participants, and is often fundamental to the rollout and success of new products.”

Business Solutions from Pilot

Since the initial engagement, Pilot’s advisory role has expanded to assisting with areas such as structuring, commercial agreement reviews to complement Pingala’s legal team, and generally acting in the role of a business advisory sounding board.

Looking Ahead

Pingala is working to expand the number of solar installs to as many new sites as possible, as well as scaling up operations, testing new technologies and business models, and working with different partners who understand the vision Pingala are trying to create.

With an in-depth understanding of Pingala’s requirements and vision, Pilot will continue to advise and assist with obtaining product rulings and providing business advisory services as Pingala evolves and delivers new products and projects into Australian communities.

About Pingala

Pingala provides opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities to “step up and take back the power”. Participants join a citizen-led energy movement and work towards a fast and fair transition to clean energy. Their aim is to help decarbonise, decentralise and democratise Australia’s energy systems.

Pingala is achieving this by unlocking the value of community finance by developing community owned and run solar farms, which are managed through solar co-operatives. Pingala work with Sydney communities partnering with local organisations and businesses, and with vulnerable and disenfranchised communities across NSW. They completed their first project with Young Henrys brewery in Newtown, with a 30kW rooftop solar install and 54 local community investors. As they scale up their operations, they will continue to work with like-minded partners and participants to continue to drive sustainable community energy.

Learn more

To learn more about Pingala and their projects, visit

For more information on how Pilot can help with an emerging business establishment, or assisting with tax rulings, contact Murray Howlett or your Pilot advisor on 07 3023 1300.