As many of you know we had an excellent event at Bernard Briggs kindergarten to celebrate the installation of panels. Thank you to Simon Ruppert of the Ensign for providing such good coverage of the event in the Benalla Ensign last week! A copy is included with this post for those who don’t read the Ensign.
I would like to explain how the solar panels came to be installed on Bernard Briggs Kindergarten.
I am Convenor of Renewable Energy Benalla, which is an action group of Benalla Sustainable Future Group, a not-for-profit community group which actively encourages taking action on climate change.
Renewable Energy Benalla seeks to encourage the uptake of renewable energy in Benalla Rural City and has initiated the Benalla Community Energy Project as one way of contributing to this. The community energy project aims to establish a donation based revolving fund to install solar panels or undertake energy efficiency upgrades on community facilities in and around Benalla.
The project provides interest free loans to the selected community facilities, to fund the works required, with no upfront contribution being necessary. Loan repayments to the fund from the host site are based on the estimated savings made on energy bills. The loan repayments gradually rebuild the balance of the fund, which can then be used to make a loan to another community building. In this way the fund becomes a revolving fund.
Donations from the community help rebuild the balance of the fund more quickly than relying solely on loan repayments, which enables new loans to be made to other community facilities more frequently.
Following discussions with the kindergarten management group, the North East Regional PreSchool Association, Munro Ave was selected as our first project with panels installed last May.
We have also been very fortunate to obtain another grant of $5000 from Winton Solar Farm which together with significant contributions from others, including some loan repayments from Munro Ave, enabled us to fund the installation of panels here, at Bernard Briggs, without the need for fund raising.
The system that was installed was a 6.6kW system which will reduce electricity costs for the kindergarten by more than $1500 per year.
Future projects however will require donations from the community. A local business, Rustik Café, has a donations box on the counter in which customers often donate small change. When Rustik heard about this project they decided to donate the money from this box to our project. Their first donation was $135 and they will continue to donate money collected in this way. Thank you to Rustik.
I would now like to thank the people and organisations that have made major contributions to this project.
First, we must once again thank Winton Solar Farm for providing us with a second Community Benefit Grant of $5000 which enabled us to fund our second project. Our thanks to Erin McPherson, who is representing Winton Solar Farm here today,
I also need to thank Brad Foletta, the Manager at Solargain Wangaratta, for the significant in-kind contribution to the installation costs of the panels. Unfortunately, Brad is unable to attend today because he has contracted Covid. Blake Smith, the Marketing Manager for Solargain, is here in his place.
This was a difficult job with a steep roof and very old fragile terracotta tiles, but the team from Solargain did a quality job.
Without the contributions and support from these people we would not be here today celebrating this event.
It is now my pleasure to introduce Dr Helen Haines, the Independent Federal Member for Indi, who will officially launch this project. Among the many aspects of her work for Indi communities, Dr Haines has a special interest in promoting renewable energy and in particular Community Energy.
In February last year, Helen tabled in Parliament her private member's bill, the Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021, which would encourage investment in community owned energy in regional areas, which would allow ordinary Australians to share in the benefits of the renewable energy boom.
Given Helen's interest in this area we felt it was highly appropriate to ask her to be our key-note speaker.
Finally, can I thank you all for attending our ceremony today and once again a special thankyou to all those who have contributed to this project. I would especially like to thank Lisa Mim for her cooperation in allowing us to conduct this ceremony at the kindergarten today.
Renewable Energy Benalla/Benalla Community Energy Project Convenor
25 February 2022
On Friday afternoon 25th February, Benalla Community Energy Project's Solar Panel Installation at Bernard Brigg's Kindergarten was officially launched by Helen Haines MP. Helen's passion for community renewable energy is demonstrated continually in communities throughout her Indigo Electorate.
BSFG President Peter Holmes also took the opportunity to thank John Lloyd, former BSFG President and retiring Renewable Energy Benalla/Benalla Community Energy Project convenor, for his tireless work in promoting renewable energy in our community. Thank you, John!
Renewable Energy Benalla received advice from Winton Solar Farm on 24th December that our application for funds in this round was successful. A great Christmas present!
Underwritten by BSFG until the Winton Solar Farm grant is received, the solar panels for Bernard Briggs Pre School were installed in late January while there were no children there.
The preschool joins Munro Avenue Pre School in becoming the recipient of a repayable loan from the Benalla Community Energy Project which covers the up front costs normally involved with solar panel installation and/or energy efficiency upgrades.
More details in future posts!
Things have been very quiet since our joint meeting in November.
The loan agreement document has been sent to the manager of NERPSA for completion of the loan request for panels for Bernard Briggs kindergarten. This includes details of the system to be installed and the loan required. Details of the estimated savings and the suggested quarterly repayment of $350 have also been sent, with the fist quarterly repayment on April 1.
The panels will be installed allowing time to hear from Winton Solar Farm about our grant application. If the grant is late, or we are unsuccessful, BSFG will underwrite the loan. Once I know about the installation date and switching the system on, I will let you know.
Our next meeting will probably be in later January, once we have heard back from BSFG about any changes in relation to action groups.
Today I received a Christmas card from Helen Haines addressed to ‘John and all at REB’, wishing us all a joyous festive season.
Can I add my wishes to everyone for a great Christmas and a healthy and safe 2022.
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Banner - launch of REB's Munro Avenue Pre School 'behind the meter' solar panel installation, May 6 '21