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Plan to reap extra benefits from solar arrays

Orange City Council is set to start a new trial aiming at boosting revenue from the sale of surplus electricity from its three largest solar arrays.

The Council has signed on for a two-year trial with electricity re-seller, South Street Energy and this week the extra metering equipment required for the trial was installed. South Street Energy sells electricity from solar systems of 40kW or greater to the wholesale electricity market, sharing income with their customers.

Orange Mayor Reg Kidd has welcomed the latest opportunity to benefit from the Council’s investment in renewable energy.

SAVINGS: The solar array at Orange Aquatic Centre is one of three systems involved in the trial.

“Orange City Council is already making major savings on its power bills from installing rooftop solar panels. While the savings are great news this is also about Orange City Council reducing its emissions,” Cr Reg Kidd said.

The three largest arrays are on the Civic Centre, the Airport and the Aquatic Centre with a total 384 KW of capacity. While the will be some variations a 384 KW system would be enough to power approximately 50 homes.

“At venues like the airport we’re already making more power than we’re using. On some days and at certain times of the year, we have surplus power that’s put back into the grid. But like many households have found, the price we get for that electricity isn’t that impressive. That’s how the market works at present,” Cr Kidd said.

Companies like South Street Energy can work with many organisations that have installed large solar arrays, to re-sell larger volumes of power, they can get a better price. Bodies like Orange City Council can then share in the benefits.

Environmental Sustainability Policy Committee Chair Cr Stephen Nugent said the Council had taken the approach of only installing enough panels to match the power needs of each facility.

“But on days when there’s full sun matched with low energy use, such as a sunny weekend, more is produced than used. It’s estimated this would happen 62 days of the year,” Cr Nugent said.

“Council has signed up for a two-year pilot that will make around $4000 a year. As the number of panels expands in future that figure could increase to $67,000 a year.”

Managing Director of South Street Energy, Mr Marco Bogaers, said the new approach brings the capacity of smaller systems together.

“Solar generation systems have generally been seen as too small to contribute directly to the wholesale electricity market,” Mr Marco Bogaers said.

“By pooling together the generating capacity of many smaller systems, we act as one big generator and can participate in the market when energy is needed most.”

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