Whittlesea community groups are leading the charge to renewable energy

Solar panels are now powering Whittlesea Community House

The Whittlesea Community Energy Transition Project is giving community groups their own renewable energy solutions to help power their facilities.

When you run a community group or a sporting club, every dollar counts.

That’s why the Whittlesea Community House and Lalor Football Netball Club are thrilled to have their own solar panels and battery storage systems to help power their facilities, through the Victorian Government’s Whittlesea Community Energy Transition Project.

Electricity bills at Whittlesea Community House dramatically reduced from $250 a month down to $62 when they had these systems installed through the program.

Whittlesea Community House manager Mary-Lynn Griffith says that every dollar they’ve saved is going towards their emergency relief social programs.

“Being able to save on our utility bill means we can put that money into our social programs, which aren't otherwise funded,” Mary-Lynn explained.

“We look after 30 families a week and we're getting an increasing number of people walking through the door needing emergency food relief.”

The Community House’s mission is to support lifelong learning within the community. They used the installation of these systems as a learning opportunity and ran an information session for the community.

A representative from Whittlesea City Council met with community members to explain the benefits of renewable energy and answer any questions.

“Lots of people were either considering (installing solar) or already had it installed. There were some people who had it installed 20 years ago and needed to know what is now available.”

“People were really interested in the way that the system worked, specifically because it's got the batteries – that's the new part that people don't know about yet.”

The Whittlesea Community Energy Transition Project was delivered through a partnership between the City of Whittlesea and the Victorian Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund who each contributed $250,000. Under the project, solar panels and battery storage systems are installed at community facilities to reduce their operating costs.

The program provides solar PV systems and, where appropriate, battery storage at community facilities such as multi-purpose community pavilions, community centres and kindergartens to reduce operating costs.

Lalor Football Netball Club President, Silvano Baldasso, said that being able to store the solar power in the batteries has been a game changer.

The renewable energy solutions almost halved the club’s electricity bill to $3000 for the 2022 season, compared to $6000 the year before.

‘’When you’ve got clear-cut dollar savings, it makes the world of difference for a sporting club, and that helps the community,’’ said Silvano.

The program will also replace gas appliances at council facilities, such as gas space heaters, gas hot water services and gas cook tops with energy efficient electric appliances.

Stopping the use of gas at the facilities will not only help to reduce council’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it will also provide an important example to the community of the environmental benefit and economic viability of ‘getting off gas’.