New South Wales network company Ausgrid has started work on its first renewable energy based microgrid, a project designed to ensure power supply to key business and community services in the Upper Hunter town of in Merriwa during grid outages.
The Merriwa Microgrid, to be located at the Ausgrid Depot and on track to be delivered in partnership with Yurika in the first half of 2024, will combine locally installed rooftop solar power generation, battery storage and a back-up diesel generator, as well as a range of control technologies.
Ausgrid says the “first-of-a-kind” microgrid will be able to operate during planned and unplanned power interruptions – switching on automatically to maintain supply to 28 properties deemed essential by the local community, including the pharmacy, grocery, fuel providers, the RSL and the Country Women’s Association.
The RSL and the CWA will act as Community Hubs to support community services and be a central meeting point during an outage or extreme weather event.
They will be able to provide amenities including wi-fi, washing machines, refrigeration and charging points and will operate under emergency conditions (in consultation with appropriate emergency service authorities).
“This is a key innovation trial to demonstrate how Ausgrid can best support communities to be increasingly resilient in the face of extreme weather and extended outages, no matter where they live on our network,” said Ausgrid’s group executive of customer, assets and digital, Junayd Hollis.
“Ausgrid hopes by building this infrastructure that Merriwa residents can maintain their normal routines as much as possible when severe weather strikes.”
Upper Hunter Shire Council Mayor, Maurice Collison, said the microgrid already promised to be transformative for the community.
“It’s not just about power; it’s about empowering our residents and businesses to be more resilient and sustainable,” Collison said.
“This project is another shining example of what can be achieved when the community, local government, and innovative companies come together for the greater good.”