Group effort for solar savings

NEXT time you flick on that light switch, will you be using solar power?

In what could be an Australian-first, Climate Rescue of Wagga Inc. (CROW) will officially launch the Riverina Community Solar Farms (RCSF) initiative at a public information session later this month. 

The project is looking for up-to five organisations to host solar systems of up to 100 kilowatts, with the goal that each host would consume between 550 and 600 kilowatt hours a day. 

In return, the organisations would benefit from cheaper bills and cleaner energy. 

The required solar panels and other technical equipment would be provided by a community-owned private company, with locked in long-term, low cost power agreements with the hosts. 

And, while you’ll need 600 square metres of roof or land space to house the required solar panels, there’s plenty for everyone to learn from their operation according to CROW chairman, Stephen James. 

“The costs of solar power have decreased by 80 per cent over the past five years while electricity costs have more than doubled,” Mr James said.

“We’ll have clean, green power generated here and the money staying here.”

Six Wagga-based organisations have already expressed interest to host a farm, with one expected to sign a memorandum of understanding at the launch. 

There are two existing community-owned energy producers in Australia, but both are wind-powered, and Mr James said numerous groups were looking at implementing a solar project. 

“(RCSF) will be a first for Australia ... it depends who’s quickest,” he said. 

Wagga City Council will discuss their involvement at an upcoming meeting as a way to complement its existing clean energy initiatives.

Director of environmental and community services, Janice Summerhayes, said a report would be tabled at council’s June meeting. 

“Over time we’ve been trying to advance (clean energy projects) as best we can,” Ms Summerhayes said.

“It’s quite exciting, it’s worth taking that step and looking at the proposal.”

* Interested persons are encouraged to attend the launch, which will be held at the Riverina Environmental Education Centre on June 26. 

BRIGHT IDEA: Climate Rescue of Wagga Inc chairman Stephen James (left) and committee member Jim Rees are calling on interested members of the public, businesses and other organisations to join the Riverina Community Solar Farms initiative. It will be launched on June 26.  Picture: Les Smith

BRIGHT IDEA: Climate Rescue of Wagga Inc chairman Stephen James (left) and committee member Jim Rees are calling on interested members of the public, businesses and other organisations to join the Riverina Community Solar Farms initiative. It will be launched on June 26. Picture: Les Smith