The Victorian Andrews Labor government has continued its clean energy assault this week by announcing that it has installed rooftop solar systems on 50 community facilities with a further 55 solar systems approved for installation over the coming months.
Victoria’s minister for energy, environment and climate change, Lily D’Ambrosio, announced the rollout on Tuesday as part of the Andrews government’s Solar on Public Buildings Program, which was launched back in August 2021.
The program provides volunteer community groups in Victoria operating in buildings on Crown land with rooftop solar systems at no cost as part of a $9.2 million investment by the Victorian government.
The aim of the program is to increase the sustainability of community halls and sports and recreation facilities around the state by helping to reduce carbon emissions and operating costs.
Amidst the 50 sites to have already had solar installed are the Everton Upper Community Centre, Simpson Recreation Reserve, Wonwondah Recreation Reserve, Elmore Recreation Reserve, and the Myrtleford Golf Club.
“This is a great example of how we’re delivering real action on climate change in regional Victoria by investing in local projects that will help communities build thriving and sustainable futures,” said Lily D’Ambrosio.
“Our strong investment in renewable energy and solar energy systems is creating local jobs, reducing power bills and helping us achieve our ambitious emissions reduction targets.”
Other locations to get solar systems in recent months include the Mongans Bridge Caravan Park, near Mount Beauty, which will save almost $4000 a year after solar panels were installed in September, and the historic Fawcett Hall Committee of Management, near Alexandra, which will reinvest savings from its new solar system into further upgrades for the hall.
Solar panels and a backup battery system have also recently been installed at the Eskdale Recreation Reserve in the north-east of the state, which will maintain power during bushfires and other emergencies.
“This is a terrific outcome for the community, the environment and our hardworking volunteer committees which are the backbone of small communities across Victoria,” said D’Ambrosio.
Announced in August 2021, the Solar on Public Buildings Program was originally trialled in Gippsland between 2017 and 2019 and saw solar systems installed on 69 buildings on public land and resulted in a reduction to power bills of an average of 81%, with savings to local volunteer communities of around $260,000 annually.
The $9.2 million Solar on Public Buildings Program covers the cost of site assessments, the supply, and the installation of solar PV systems on buildings managed by volunteers on Crown Land. While there is normally no charge, community organisations with significant power needs and a larger income may be asked to provide a co-contribution, up to 50%.
The Solar on Public Buildings Program is backed up by the Andrews government’s Community Climate Change and Energy Action program, which allows community organisations to apply for up to $50,000 for use in upgrading heating and cooling, installing shading, insulation, double glazing, lighting, and renewable energy installations like rooftop solar panels and battery storage.
Earlier this year Lily D’Ambrosio announced grants would be shared out amongst 171 community organisations around Victoria, receiving a share of $1.25 million designed to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The first 171 grants, amounting to $1.3 million, are expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,700 tonnes and save around $343,000 in annual power bills.