Mackay Regional Council Investing $2 Million In Solar Power

The $2 million Queensland’s Mackay Regional Council will plow into solar energy will save ratepayers nearly $17 million in electricity costs over the next two decades.

Council announced yesterday it had awarded a tender to Akcome Power Pty Ltd. that will result in solar power systems installed at 21 council facilities

“Council, like households, has been hard hit by rising electricity prices,’ said Mayor Greg Williamson. “This fairly modest initial outlay is an investment in the future which will provide ongoing cost savings.”

The Mayor isn’t exaggerating when stating Council is feeling the pinch of high electricity costs. According to notes accompanying financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2017, Mackay Regional Council electricity costs were $7,103,713; up from $6,017,223 during the previous year.

Facilities to have solar installed include the Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre Artspace, Bluewater Lagoon, Dumbleton Weir pump station, libraries, pools, sewerage treatment facilities, admin buildings, waste transfer facilities and council depots.

There was a great deal of interest in the opportunity, with 16 shortlisted Expressions of Interest (EOI) respondents invited to tender.

As well as knocking down power bills, the solar panels will help Council in its efforts to become a low carbon region; part of which includes increasing the percentage of its total energy consumption from renewable sources.

Councils across Australia have been flocking to commercial solar solutions to rein in electricity costs and slash emissions as the technology has become even more accessible in recent years thanks to significant reductions in the cost of components.

This isn’t Mackay Council’s first brush with solar energy. Panels were installed on the Administration building at the Paget Depot precinct as part of a broader sustainability drive at the facility, which saw Council winning the Built Environment Award  at the 2012 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

Rooftop solar panels

Paget Depot Solar Installation | Google Earth

Solar power in Mackay is already very popular among local residents and businesses. More than 7,358 small scale PV systems of less than 100kW capacity had been installed in the 4740 postcode as at March 31, representing 32.2MW capacity. That figure had grown by around 390 systems since we last reported on a tally in November.

With a population just over 80,000 according to 2016 Census statistics, the collective capacity translates to around 400 watts per person; significantly higher than the Australian average of ~280 watts per capita. With ongoing uptake and Council’s efforts, it should continue to climb.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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