Bat­tery and so­lar ses­sions roll out

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By CORAL COOKSLEY

TO­TALLY Re­new­able Beech­worth (TRB) last month pow­ered up with the launch of a so­lar and bat­tery of­fer at in­for­ma­tion ses­sions for lo­cal res­i­dents and busi­nesses held at the town's Memo­rial Hall.

With com­mu­nity en­ergy trad­ing and shar­ing tech­nol­ogy, TRB aims to have elec­tric­ity needs of Beech­worth and sur­round­ing ar­eas with a 3747 post­code to­tally sourced from re­new­able en­ergy by the year 2030.

TRB's Bev Smith said the group part­nered with Mel­bourne-based Mondo - an Aus­net sub­sidiary that de­signed and built res­i­den­tial and busi­ness en­ergy sys­tem so­lu­tions - and Al­bury-based in­stal­la­tion com­pany, So­lar In­tegrity for the com­mu­nity of­fer.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the new part­ner­ships were among in­dus­try ex­perts who de­liv­ered in­for­ma­tion at the Indigo Shire Coun­cil sup­ported event to around 100 lo­cal res­i­dents.

Ms Smith said re­new­able en­ergy tech­nol­ogy, its man­age­ment and costs had been ex­plored for the best avail­able pack­ages to be of­fered be­fore the Mondo part­ner­ship.

Mondo rep­re­sen­ta­tive and for­mer co-chair of To­tally Re­new­able Yackan­dan­dah (TRY) Matt Charles-Jones said a man­age­ment and mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem for so­lar pan­els and bat­tery power in­cluded a smart con­trol de­vice 'Ubi' that mea­sured en­ergy use, gen­er­a­tion and stor­age.

TRB mem­ber Bev Smith said the com­mu­nity en­ergy re­tailer Indigo Power was also cru­cial to the mix for re­new­able en­ergy fu­ture.

"It pro­vides the ac­count­ing tech­nol­ogy for en­ergy pro­duced and used lo­cally through Ubi as well as the fi­nan­cial mech­a­nism for buy­ing and sell­ing elec­tric­ity," she said.

With TRB one of 13 en­ergy groups across the North East, Mr Charles-Jones said among com­mon goals were re­duced elec­tric­ity costs to busi­nesses and homes, and in­vig­o­ra­tion of the lo­cal econ­omy.

Oth­ers in­cluded car­bon emis­sion re­duc­tion and the com­mu­nity work­ing to­gether to cre­ate a re­li­able and ro­bust elec­tric­ity sup­ply with lo­cal own­er­ship.

Mr Charles-Jones said the North East had the strong­est up­take from around 90 ac­tive com­mu­nity en­ergy groups across Aus­tralia.

"Indigo shire has the high­est pro­por­tion of so­lar in­stal­la­tions in Vic­to­ria," he said.

"With a sim­i­lar of­fer made to Yackan­dan­dah res­i­dents last year, 125 sys­tems were in- stalled, and we're about to tip over fifty per­cent of build­ings with so­lar power in the town mak­ing it a first in Vic­to­ria."

With the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment tak­ing a lead in re­new­able en­ergy, Mr Charles-Jones said Beech­worth res­i­dents who opted for so­lar pan­els were el­i­gi­ble for up to a $2250 re­bate and up to $5,000 for bat­ter­ies.

The gov­ern­ment sup­ported low in­come house­holds with in­ter­est free loans and pack- ages for land­lords and ten­ants as well. With the re­duc­tion in costs for so­lar pan­els, Ms. Smith said af­ford­abil­ity had sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased.

"It's now no longer just an en­vi­ron­men­tal de­ci­sion, it's an eco­nomic one," she said.

"We now have in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy with a sys­tem that gives in­di­vid­u­als a greater say and con­trol over their en­ergy."

Ms Smith said it be­came a com­mu­nity net­work as well com­pared to a closed one with the big play­ers.

She said TRB would like to see a so­cial move­ment.

"It's about peo­ple tak­ing in­di­vid­ual ac­tion with com­mon goals and work­ing in a col­lec­tive way." she said.

"We stand as a move­ment and we're help­ing the com­mu­nity to take ac­tion."

SWITCHED ON: To­tally Re­new­able Beech­worth's Bev Smith (left) and Peter An­fruns, So­lar In­tegrity's Brett Emo, Mondo's Matt Charles-Jones, To­tally Re­new­able Yackan­dan­dah's Matt Gro­gan with Mondo's Dan Brook, So­lar In­tegrity's Bob­bie McKib­bin and Mondo's Natasha Chap­man at last month's so­lar and bat­tery of­fer to the com­mu­nity held in Beech­worth.

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