Battery and solar sessions roll out
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.