New project aims to re­duce en­ergy costs

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

Farm­ers, busi­ness own­ers and in­di­vid­u­als want­ing to lower their en­ergy costs are be­ing urged to con­sider an ex­cit­ing new ‘peer-to-peer’ power project.

The La­trobe Val­ley Mi­cro­grid, which is still at the fea­si­bil­ity study stage, is seek­ing 300 farm­ers, busi­ness own­ers and in­di­vid­u­als to par­tic­i­pate in the project.

The mi­cro­grid aims to help cus­tomers buy and sell elec­tric­ity ‘peer to peer’ within a lo­cal en­ergy mar­ket­place and be paid for ‘ne­gawatts’ – the en­ergy saved by turn­ing off an ap­pli­ance

The project also will help cus­tomers in­stall lo­cal so­lar and bat­tery sys­tems to pro­vide much needed cost sav­ings and ad­di­tional rev­enue streams to sup­port the farm­ing in­dus­try.

Lo­cal busi­nesses and res­i­dents also will have an op­por­tu­nity to se­curely buy and sell en­ergy and ben­e­fit from ef­fi­cient en­ergy choices, while at the same time con­tribut­ing to low­er­ing fu­ture net­work costs for all cus­tomers.

Farm­ers in La­trobe City, Welling­ton, Baw Baw and South Gipp­s­land shires are wel­come to ap­ply to be­come part of the fea­si­bil­ity study.

Gipp­sDairy re­gional man­ager Al­lan Cameron said the mi­cro­grid project has the po­ten­tial to change the way the dairy in­dus­try ap­proaches en­ergy us­age.

“Dairy farms are high elec­tric­ity users and all farm­ers would love to re­duce the costs that come with run­ning a dairy busi­ness,” he said.

“While it’s still early days for the mi­cro­grid project, the prospect of be­ing able to gen­er­ate, store and trade en­ergy within lo­cal re­gions is ex­cit­ing for an in­dus­try that is aim­ing for cost re­duc­tions, im­proved en­ergy re­li­a­bil­ity and long term sus­tain­abil­ity.”

The nine-month study, which is backed by net­work op­er­a­tor AusNet and sup­ported by Dairy Aus­tralia, Gipp­sDairy, Sus­tain­able Mel­bourne Fund, Siemens and LO3 En­ergy, will eval­u­ate the ap­petite for a lo­cal mi­cro­grid.

Peo­ple can sign up at­trobe­val­ley.en­ergy sim­ply by fill­ing out a form and sub­mit­ting a util­ity bill - and if the project gets enough sup­port it will get the green light to make La­trobe Val­ley the first re­gion in Aus­tralia where lo­cal peo­ple can truly con­trol their en­ergy pur­chases.

“A mi­cro­grid makes a lot of sense for dairy farm­ing re­gions, so we hope peo­ple get be­hind this to make it hap­pen,” Lawrence Orsini, CEO of mi­cro­grid de­vel­oper LO3 En­ergy, said.

“This area al­ready has a lot of re­new­able gen­er­a­tion while lo­cal farms are ideal for so­lar gen­er­a­tion. By con­nect­ing up lo­cal sup­pli­ers and res­i­dents a mi­cro­grid would keep that en­ergy lo­cal and stim­u­late the econ­omy.”

Dairy Aus­tralia also has backed the scheme in a bid to help boost lo­cal farms.

“We hope lots of peo­ple sign up be­cause we be­lieve this lo­cal en­ergy mar­ket­place of­fers huge po­ten­tial for lo­cal farm­ers,” Dairy Aus­tralia spokesman Ian Olm­stead said.

“En­ergy is a rapidly ris­ing cost in dairy farm­ing - but the large farm build­ings and sheds are prime lo­ca­tions for rooftop so­lar pan­els that can pro­duce their own en­ergy.

“Some have al­ready in­vested in so­lar to re­duce their en­ergy costs but a lo­cal en­ergy mar­ket­place would add fur­ther in­cen­tive as any sur­plus en­ergy could be sold di­rectly to lo­cals at rates that ben­e­fit both buy­ers and sell­ers.”

A typ­i­cal dairy farm has a rigid en­ergy con­sump­tion pro­file that al­lows ex­cess en­ergy to be sold in the day­time.

Farm­ers, as well as res­i­dents and other busi­nesses, with ex­ist­ing re­new­able gen­er­a­tion and/or bat­tery stor­age, or con­sid­er­ing in­stalling so­lar/bat­tery etc, or who would like to buy en­ergy lo­cally, can sign up to the fea­si­bil­ity study by vis­it­ing­trobe­val­ley.en­ergy

Lo­cal farmer Chris Bagot is al­ready pro­duc­ing his own en­ergy to re­duce power bills on his dairy farm.

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