(edited version originally published in the LVCPH Newsletter Dec 19)
The Latrobe Valley Community Power Hub’s Gippy Bulk Buy program donated a new 4.4 kW solar system to the Loch Sport Public Hall. The Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change officially announced the winner late last week in Morwell, along with representatives from the Power Hub, local Government and Loch Sport Community members.
Loch Sport Public Hall Committee of Management President, Bill Klein said “I’m just really pleased that we got it. I was over the moon about it because we wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise”. Loch Sport is a relatively isolated township 56km away from Sale. The Hall is an essential site for the community, providing a valuable place for people to meet and enjoy activities such as creative workshops, ballroom dancing classes, yoga classes and music practice. The site is also used for regular community meetings of groups such as the Lions Club and Senior Citizens Club.
The Gippy Bulk Buy was one of the first Latrobe Valley Community Power Hub projects which offered quality and cost price solar PV and hot water through a bulk buy scheme for residents and businesses. Local Gippsland installer A1 Solar and Electrical who partnered with the program from the beginning will be doing the install in January 2020. 326kW of solar PV was installed on 42 local households and four businesses. This will see combined savings of $128,000 per year in electricity bills for the participants and $3.2 million over the life of the solar systems. The program was an initiative with the Latrobe City Council, Wellington Shire, Baw Baw Shire and not-for-profit Yarra Energy Foundation.
A community benefit requirement was that a percentage of the total sales would be used to donate a solar PV system to a community site. The councils and power hub assessed nominated sites across the three council areas on their community benefits and service reach, roof suitability, power usage and usage compatibility with solar and predicted savings, among other things. Three sites; a boxing gym hall in Warragul, Interchange Gippsland in Morwell, and the Loch Sport Hall were all put to public vote as a chance for the community to have their say on what sites mattered to them most which was also taken into account. In the end the Loch Sport site had many positives as well as the highest public vote.