Money maker

LEONGATHA could be home to an innovative renewable energy hub that would slash the electricity bills of sporting groups and spin money for the community.

South Gippsland Shire Council is awaiting the results of a business case for solar panels on South Gippsland SPLASH aquatic and leisure centre in Leongatha, and other buildings at Leongatha Recreation Reserve.

It’s hoped the case will reveal solar panels would produce electricity to help feed SPLASH’s massive energy demands, and further panels could be installed on the Leongatha Football Netball Club and Woorayl Golf Club.

The project would make Leongatha home to a key community energy site, with a microgrid seeing all electricity produced feeding into one meter and shared across the site.

Council’s sustainability officer Heidi Hamm said the project was “exciting for South Gippsland”.

“It supports local renewable energy generation and it means savings for the sporting clubs run by community groups, so they will save money and be able to do whatever they choose with those savings,” she said.

“There are other councils that are looking at other microgrids but this is quite an innovative project for regional areas.”

Ms Hamm said surplus funds from the savings made by the solar system could be invested in a community fund for wider public benefit.

“It could be a revolving fund for renewable energy projects on community buildings,” she said.

SPLASH is a major user of electricity, consuming more than 160 megawatt hours per year. The 99kW system proposed for SPLASH would be about as 20 times as big as a household system.

“At the earliest, implementation could start early next year and I believe it will take a year to implement,” Ms Hamm said.

Council would have to apply for grants to install the solar systems, based on figures produced by the business case.

SPLASH operators, the YMCA, pay SPLASH’s energy bills now.

Council’s environment officer Skye Radcliffe-Scott said, “There are possibly other sites that could be looked at in the future. This could be a trial site.”

The business case is being funded by a $20,000 grant shared by South Gippsland and Bass Coast shire councils, and awarded by the State Government’s 2015 Climate Change grant program.

The grant came through Communities Making Energy Together (ComMET), a group comprising the councils, Energy Innovative Co-operative and Mirboo North Community Energy Hub.

The business case is nearly complete and council could apply for funding later this month to install the panels, with the outcome of that application possibly known by early next year.

Here’s hoping: from left, South Gippsland Shire Council’s environment officer Skye Radcliffe-Scott, YMCA’s Sarah Hadjialexiou and council’s sustainability officer Heidi Hamm show where a solar electricity system could be installed on the
roof of South Gippsland SPLASH aquatic and leisure centre in Leongatha.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=23092

Posted by on Nov 8 2017. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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