St Kilda Town Hall, home base for the City of Port Phillip Council in Melbourne, has become the latest local government HQ in Australia to install rooftop solar – in this case, an impressive 172kW PV array that the Council claims is among the biggest of its kind in the country.
The solar system, which follows up on a major energy efficiency program at the Town Hall that has cut energy consumption at the site by 34 per cent since 2012, is expected to save the Port Phillip Council around $44,000 a year on electricity and supply costs. The system is expected to pay for itself in around 13 years.
The panels cover the roof of the 1890 building and, according to the City of Port Phillip, constitute the second-largest Victorian local government solar array – the largest being the system installed at the Queen Victoria Market.
Solar has become a popular investment for local governments around Australia, as they try to cut operating costs and meet their own climate goals – many of which are considerably more ambitious than those at a federal level.
Last week, One Step Off The Grid reported that the City of Moreland had installed a 99kW PV system on the roof of the Brunswick Town Hall, overcoming issues of rooftop shading and accessibility to do so.
“Local Government can be powerful actors in the movie of how this story unfolds,” said Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood at the St Kilda Town Hall launch on Friday morning. “Today’s …event shows how they can take the lead on behalf of all citizens.”
The City of Port Phillip – which includes the major bayside suburbs of Elwood, St Kilda, Albert Park, Middle Park, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne – has targeted zero greenhouse gas emissions for Council operations by 2020.
It is also supporting sustainability networks and running a Toward Zero Community Forum aimed at fostering ideas to meet community sustainability targets.
The Community Carbon Cops, a group of energy savers established by Council and the University of the Third Age in 2013, have helped save thousands of dollars and reduced carbon dioxide emissions in Council buildings, including an Albert Park community centre, through initiatives including improved insulation and solar panels.
Port Phillip Council is also involved in the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.
“This (solar installation) is just the start of a staged rollout of solar panels on other Council-owned buildings including libraries, community centres and the expansion of solar at South Melbourne Market,” said Port Phillip Mayor Bernadine Voss.
“Local government has the opportunity to be a leader in adopting this clean, cost saving renewable energy source and we encourage other Councils to consider the many benefits of going solar.”