Notes of Meeting With Indigo Power, at Beechworth
Present: Donald Mace (Indigo Power), Kevin Smith & David Blore (Renewable Energy Benalla)
Date: Tuesday 20 June 2023
The meeting was arranged as a follow-up to Donald's presentation to the BSFG AGM on 25 May 2023.
Donald outlined current work and involvement of Indigo Power (IP) on community energy projects especially community energy batteries. He advised that IP had been successful in the first round of Commonwealth funding for a community battery for Yarra Junction. He also outlined upcoming government grants for community batteries, noting that IP was developing submissions for a number of projects (10-12 bids), with strong business cases for each. He commented that the work required to develop a strong business case and submission was extensive; not many community groups were able to address the detailed submission requirements from his experience. (A message for us in regard to the effort required.)
Donald also outlined possibilities being considered under Round 3 of the Victorian Neighbourhood Battery grant program, including a possible community battery in Benalla. BRCC is part of the suite of possibilities being considered as a member of the "Central Victoria Greenhouse Alliance" a grouping of Councils including existing groups such as the "Goulburn Murray Greenhouse Alliance". The Benalla project could entail a community behind-the-meter battery (with/without EV charging) at the former Civic Centre, now the Library. Presumably this battery would be charged from existing solar panels on the Library - and the Senior Citizens (?). We pointed out that the Library only has limited evening operating hours but the Senior Cits is used on a number of nights, thus gaining direct benefits from the battery.
We discussed possibilities for inclusion of EV charging: Donald advised that these units (at $60,000 - 70,000 to install, depending on charging rate) could be added at cost. Both the siting of any EV chargers and the battery would be subject to finding a suitable flood-free site (i.e. not under the Library!). Chargers are usually located in nose-in car parking spaces: we mentioned the possibility of installing a couple of (double) chargers along Fawkner Drive in close proximity to the battery at the Library. Donald didn't think this was impossible. The location would also be better than say Bridge Street where legitimate objections might be raised to the length of parking required for a charge.
Don suggested that a possible project for REB would be to seek funding for provision of EV charger stations. He suggested several funding sources including:
Another action by REB could be a letter of support for the proposal for a community battery. Don will liaise with David Blore when this would be desirable.
We also discussed other project options including Indigo Power's proposal for changing household power usage for hot water from the old off-peak night rate model to midday to take advantage of the period of maximum solar generation. Typical cost for such a change is $500/household. Indigo Power have put a submission to our local Member Helen Haines for a pilot project. Kevin Smith and David Blore briefly discussed on the way home the possibility of REB subsidising installations In Benalla with a fixed payback process on a monthly or quarterly basis (say a subsidy of 50% of cost, paid back over five quarters at $50/quarter).
Would be worth following up further with Indigo Power and Helen Haines as the site of a trial project.
Donald advised that a tariff increase of up to 25% has been advised by the state regulator and will happen on 1 August for power supply . Indigo Power, conscious of their community obligations, will only increase their rate by 12%. IP will also increase their solar feed-in tariff by 7.2%. Donald confirmed that the new peak period for power charges is from 3 pm to 9 pm nightly.
Brief discussion on heat pumps - nothing conclusive for us.
We briefly discussed other power generation options including pumped hydro (not many options close to Benalla!) and wind. Kevin mentioned the wind resource in the Nillahcootie locality, where wind through the gap in the ranges to the east and west of the narrow valley are typically strong northerlies or southerlies. Donald referred to Hepburn as a potential model of how it might be done here - again with a battery incorporated.
Check out our posts and Facebook to find out more about events - both upcoming and recent - issues and items of interest.
Banner - launch of REB's Munro Avenue Pre School 'behind the meter' solar panel installation, May 6 '21