Energise Gloucester Newsletter No 21

Energise Gloucester Newsletter No 21
Mar 11, 2020

Breaking News—We DID it, a Grant from the NSW Govt will help us to build our very own Gloucester Solar Farm

Energise Gloucester has received a grant of $460,000 from the NSW Regional Community Energy Fund (RCEF) being almost half the cost of building the Solar Farm.

We will need to raise $380,000 from the community through shares in a Co-operative. This will be established to build and operate the Solar Farm. Work will commence in 2020, electricity will be generated early in 2022 and continue for at least 20 years.

The Committee is very excited about this Solar Farm and how it can help Gloucester to generate its own electricity. A primary objective is to enable the Gloucester Community to invest in the generation of renewable energy for the local area. Another objective is to provide cheaper electricity to some sections of the community and the criteria for this will be established by the Co-operative.

The project will be launched later this month at a public meeting on Thursday 26th March.

Energise Gloucester has been undertaking the background work for the project for 18 months and this grant is fantastic and greatly appreciated. The money comes from the RCEF administered by the NSW Dept. of Planning, Industry and Environment. Gloucester is one of 7 projects being funded.

The application for the grant was developed by a lot of people and the Committee thanks them all. For many of these people, the work will continue as we use their services and expertise to develop and construct the Solar Farm. The main writing team was David Marston, Neill Bencke (technical) and Di Montague (community). System design was provided by Mike Ramsden and Ian Marston, governance and legal aspects by Nena Hicks and John Watts, health and safety by Jim De Silva, risk management by Alison Bencke and Annemie Pelletier, financial analysis by Stephan Pfister, and environment assessment by Helen Currie.

Our first task NOW is to develop the Co-operative.

Over the next few months, a Steering Group will develop the Co-operative. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Steering Group or know someone who has experience in co-operatives, then contact David Marston on mobile 0438316644 or chair@energisegloucester.org to discuss this opportunity.

Even though there is a lot of work to be done, we look forward to working with the Gloucester Community on this exciting community project.

An interim project team has been formed within EG and this includes Neill, Di, Vicki, Jenny and David. Please talk to us if you would like to know more or if you would like to get involved.

We have cancelled the Public Launch of the Gloucester Community Solar Farm Project that was to be held on Thursday 26 March.

This is due to the situation with the Coronavirus and the need to be responsible with social distancing as recommended by the Government .

Work on the project is continuing and we will keep you informed on progress and how you can be involved.

If you need information or want to talk about any aspect of the project don’t hesitate to contact David Marston on mobile 0438316644 or chair@energisegloucester.org

Energise Gloucester Solar Farm
invites YOU to a Public Meeting

Thursday, March 26
5.30 - 7.00 pm

Gloucester Soldiers Club
32 Denison St, Gloucester NSW 2422

The Solar Farm will enable the community to:

  • Purchase local clean energy.
  • Invest in renewable energy generation.
  • Support low-income households through reduced electricity costs.
  • Own at least 51% of this Renewable Energy Project.
  • Explore education and training opportunities.

Speakers plus Q & A

Gloucester Community Solar Farm

The Concept

11kV power pole with transformer similar to what is needed for the solar farm grid connection
11kV power pole with transformer similar to what is needed for the solar farm grid connection

Energise Gloucester (EG) will develop and operate a 500kW ground-mounted solar PV generation system near Gloucester. It will be on 1-2ha of agricultural land leased from the owner for 20 years. It needs to be adjacent to an 11kV power line so it can connect to the Essential Energy grid.

Electricity will be sold through a special Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a retailer able to market preferentially into the Gloucester community. Preliminary discussions have been held with Enova about a PPA. This project is supported in principal by MidCoast Council and Essential Energy.

The Gloucester region has a substantial number of Households (HH) of low socioeconomic circumstances. Approximately $75,000 per year is provided to such HH as NSW Government electricity payment vouchers (EAPA Program) through the Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Centre. The proposed PPA will enable EG, through the retailer, to sell some electricity back into Gloucester Community at variable discounted rates based on these HH socioeconomic situations. This would be reflected in the rate that EG obtains for a proportion of its PPA and the dividend rate negotiated with some investors.

Finance beyond that provided by the NSW Government Regional Community Energy Fund (RCEF) will be raised through community equity investments and pro bono contributions. A Co-operative will be established by EG to manage the project, investments and PPA sales.

The project development cost is $970,000 and over the 20-year life of the annual operating costs will be $25,000pa and equipment replacement costs of $80,000. The RCEF grant is $460,000. Energise Gloucester will raise $380,000 from the community by issuing Members shares in a Co-operative that will pay annual dividends of 3-4% or reduced electricity costs. Pro bono contributions to the development and operation of the Solar Farm are estimated to be over $100,000. It is planned to commission the Solar Farm by February 2022.

Technical description

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be used to generate electricity for feed-in to the 11kV grid system. For design purposes at this stage we have selected Trina 400W mono crystalline panels. There will be 1600 PV panels in ground-mounted arrays feeding into 20 Fronius ECO 25kW inverters.

The system will generate 640kW DC which will be transformed to 500kW AC for connection to the grid through a 415V/11kV 500kVA step up substation. Essential Energy, as the grid owners and operators, will give final approval of the connection specifications.

The electrical and solar technologies to be used for the GCSF are well known and proven. Energise Gloucester is confident that the system will operate efficiently and effectively as designed by our qualified electricians and engineers.

The Co-operative

A Co-operative is a business owned and controlled by its members.

Co-operatives are:

  • People centred;
  • Owned, controlled, used and invested in by members;
  • Democratic with one vote per member to determine the Co-op policies and operations; and
  • Concerned with member and community development by providing goods and services.

Energise Gloucester is an Incorporated Association. As such, it is a “not-for-profit” organisation and cannot distribute surplus funds to members. The solar farm will generate and sell electricity for a profit to investors.

Gloucester Community Solar Farm Co-operative will be a Distributing Co-op; it will distribute profits to its members. It will provide services to its members; electricity to some and an ethical return on their investment in solar energy to others

Do you know the Answer?

Do you know the Answer?
Do you know the Answer?

Send the correct answer by email to: editor@energisegloucester.org

How many types of renewable energy are there normally said to be?

B: Three
C: Eight
D: Seven
E: Four

The answer to our last question was (C) - Uranium
The first person in with the correct answer was:
Pat Burrows