Marie Lakey

A solar panel and battery system has been installed at the Hepburn Recreation Reserve to protect the power supply for this dedicated place of last resort in the event of a bushfire.

To support the facility’s bushfire resilience, several community organisations have come together to fund and install an impressive the 76-panel solar system and storage battery. The  system was collaboratively funded by the Hepburn Shire Council, Hepburn Wind, the Hepburn Solar Bulk-Buy through the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance and with a grant from Bank Australia.

The 25.08kW solar array will produce an average 88kWh each day, enough to cover the facility’s summer electricity usage (estimated at 61kWhs a day) and one-third of their winter use, substantially reducing their electricity bills throughout the year. The Tesla Powerwall 2 has been specified by the installing consultants, Specialized Solar, because it will provide at least one full day of backup power, more if weather conditions are favourable, a reserve which is critical in the event of a black out.

“During emergency events it is common for the electricity grid to go down, making it harder for designated Neighbourhood Safer Places, like the Hepburn Recreation Reserve, to maintain basic support services,” said Rob Law, Executive Officer at the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance.

The new system will also greatly reduce the running costs of the facility which is used by local sports clubs, including the Hepburn Football and Netball Club. “Not only will the new system provide power in a blackout but will also reduce power costs to our community organisation and reduce the carbon footprint of the facility. Our many thanks to all of the involved parties and funding partners,” said Jason Dooley, President of the Hepburn Football and Netball Club.

With many community members shocked by the Hepburn fires and the extended 2019-20 bushfire season, the new solar and battery system is a proactive step to avoid emissions while boosting comfort and safety in the event of a future fire.

“After the Hepburn fires it is important that this community asset is comfortable and a refuge during fire events, as well as ensuring the sporting teams and other community groups that use the site have a constant supply of clean energy,” said Taryn Lane, Manager, Hepburn Wind.

The solar and battery system was designed and installed by Specialized Solar, a Clean Energy Accredited Solar Retailer and supplier to the bulk-buy programs organised by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance.

The total system cost was $31,818. The Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance was the largest contributor of $15,318 and a further $12,500 was provided by a Bank Australia grant. Hepburn Shire Council contributed $12,000, Hepburn Wind $4,500  and $2,818 came from the Hepburn Solar Bulk-Buy.

Michelle Schleiger, Sustainability Officer, Hepburn Shire Council, Cr Licia Kokocinski, Mayor of the Hepburn Shire Council, Rob Law, Executive Officer, Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, Taryn Lane, Manager, Hepburn Wind, Bill Pedretti, former president and life member of Hepburn Football and Netball Club. Photo: Carmen Bunting Photography

Read more about the Hepburn Solar Bulk-Buy. Households and businesses can install solar and/or batteries through the bulk-buy scheme and community facilities can register for a free ‘community bonus’ system.

Read more about Neighbourhood Safer Places. A Neighbourhood Safer Place (NSP) is a place of last resort during the passage of bushfire and is intended to be used by persons whose primary bushfire plans have failed.

Marie Lakey is a representative of Hepburn Wind,

This story was adapted from the Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy story published in One Step Off the Grid.