South Coast Register, 16/4/2014
A celebration of solar power took place at Kangaroo Valley Community Centre and Ambulance Station on Sunday. The event marked the success of the community-driven solar panel and energy efficient lighting project run by REpower Shoalhaven.
Thirty-two individuals and organisations donated almost $10,000 for the solar power and LED lighting system. It also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the centre, which was also celebrated.
The project is a testament to community power.
In 2001 the old ambulance station was deemed no longer suitable and the community was told it had to be closed.
Over the next three years, the Kangaroo Valley Lions Club raised almost half a million dollars to build a new ambulance station, with the added inclusion of a local medical centre.
Local architects and tradespeople designed and constructed the centre.
When it was completed in 2004, some sustainability features such as efficient lighting and renewable power were omitted because of cost.
REpower Shoalhaven chairman Chris Cooper said with solar power now much more affordable, it was fitting to mark the 10 year anniversary of the centre with solar panels and LED lighting, “being installed in the same fashion as the building was originally constructed – through donations and volunteer labour”.
What we have on the roof here, is now much more than a solar power system. - REpower Shoalhaven chairman Chris Cooper.
The project was first pitched to REpower Shoalhaven by Valley residents and REpower members Mike and Cathy Gorman in June last year.
“It fitted perfectly with the community energy aims of our group, so we’ve teamed up with the Lions Club to make it happen,” Chris said.
“Originally aiming for a 3kW solar power system, after three months of steady donations there was enough support to install a 9kW system – three times bigger than planned.
“This means that the building is now carbon neutral in its energy use.”
The project indicates a shift in thinking, Chris said.
“What we have on the roof here, is now much more than a solar power system,” he said.
“It is a symbol of the broader shift which we are seeing take place today, whereby our energy is become decentralised, democratised and decarbonised, largely through affordable solar power.
“Energy is becoming decentralised as more and more households, businesses, and communities become generators as well as customers. “Energy is being democratised as everyday people can now own and profit from their own generation, shattering age-old utility business models. “And energy is becoming decarbonised - as what was once known as an alternative energy has now gone mainstream.”
REpower Shoalhaven was founded to promote the deployment of local renewable energy for the benefit of local residents and business.
Repower Shoalhaven Incorporated
PO Box 2226, Bomaderry NSW, 2541
ABN 73 379 383 110