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Representatives from South West Community Energy, Warrnambool Community Garden and Warrnambool City Council celebrate the solar project

Community energy project a first for the South West

News Article Date: 
Friday, 5 March 2021

The South West’s first community energy project has been officially switched on at Warrnambool Community Garden.

The 6.6kW photovoltaic installation on the roof of the garden’s Hub building came about through a partnership between the South West Community Energy (SWCE) , the Community Garden and Warrnambool City Council.

“Power from the solar system will be used to reduce electricity costs and carbon emissions from the Garden’s activities - including their exciting new quarry redevelopment,” SWCE representative Murray Dancey said.

Council contributed $3,000 to the $8,000 project through its Community Development Fund.

Mr Dancey said the operating and funding model established by SWCE provided low-cost energy to the garden while providing funding that would allow SWCE to roll out similar community energy projects and continue its community education efforts.

“The Community Garden will repay SWCE over eight years after which all the savings go directly to the Garden,” Mr Dancey said.

Warrnambool Community Garden committee member Geoff Rollinson said the Garden members had identified that the quarry redevelopment, which will include a sound stage, would require additional energy. 

“We wanted that energy to be renewable energy and SWCE was able to help us plan a renewable energy system that would meet our needs and aspirations to be a carbon neutral operation,” Mr Rollinson said.

“Over time we want to be feeding more energy into the grid than we are taking out.”

Warrnambool Mayor Cr Vicki Jellie congratulated SWCE and Warrnambool Garden on the outcome.

“This project exemplifies what so many people in the South West do well – work collaboratively and voluntarily to bring about positive outcomes for the community.

“This project aligns with the long-term community vision, Warrnambool 2040, where has a goal of having zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

“Council was pleased to support the project and it’s exciting that we now have a great model that could be the catalyst for similar projects at other community facilities.”

SWCE, is a not-for-profit community run group, that facilitates the uptake of new community-owned renewable energy systems, thereby reducing carbon emissions and putting the brakes on climate-change.

Warrnambool Community Garden is a common ground where people come together in a spirit of mutual support and friendship to grow, learn, produce and share.

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