Remote aboriginal communities to benefit from solar co-investments

Horizon Power will partner with two remote Western Australian Aboriginal communities to co-invest in the roll-out of rooftop solar installations that will reduce the long-term electricity costs for the communities.

The communities of Warmun in the East Kimberley, and Bidyandanga located in the West Kimberley, will share in the installation of 311 kilowatts of rooftop solar under Horizon’s Solar Incentives Scheme.

The Solar Incentives Scheme will cover up to 30 per cent of the upfront costs of the rooftop solar installations, with the flow-on benefits of cheaper electricity retained by the community.

“Horizon Power has taken the lead to identify, develop and deliver cleaner energy solutions co-created with our communities,” Horizon Power chief executive officer Stephanie Unwin said.

The community of Warmun will see 150 kilowatts of rooftop solar installed across six buildings, including the community’s early learning centre, community hall, and local store, and will generate more than $72,000 in energy savings annually.

In Bidyanga, 161 kilowatts of solar will be installed across four buildings and will likewise save the community more than $78,000 annually through reduced energy costs.

The Horizon Solar Incentives Scheme is open to aboriginal corporations that are also Horizon Power customers, with the communities of Beagle Bay, Ardyaloon, Kalumburu and Looma also eligible to undertake co-investments in rooftop solar under the scheme.

The deployment of solar installations has been an effective way of reducing both the energy costs for remote communities, as well as significantly reducing communities dependence on the trucking in of supplies of more polluting diesel fuels.

The innovative co-investment initiative offered by Horizon Power was shortlisted for recognition by both the Clean Energy Council and Energy Consumers Australia for the strong community engagement achieved under the program.

Investments in distributed energy systems can generate significant savings for energy retailers and grid operators, as the solar systems can reduce the burden on remote energy grids and the load on the handful of generator units supplying the communities with power.

Earlier in the year, Horizon Power unveiled plans to use distributed renewable energy systems, combined with battery storage to change the way the company approached supplying power in the regional areas of Western Australia.

Citing the high costs of maintaining network infrastructure in remote and fringe-of-grid communities, Horizon Power sees falling costs of solar, wind and energy storage as providing an opportunity to provide more reliable and more affordable power through the location of power infrastructure within the communities where the power is used.

The Western Australian government has also pursued its own $11.6 million initiative, that runs alongside that of Horizon Power, to deploy between 400 and 600kW of distributed solar resources across an additional six remote Aboriginal communities.

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