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Adelaide councils look to solar to reduce power bills

10th Jan 2013

Australian households aren't the only ones being hit by rising power costs.

City councils are feeling the heat too. So much so that two councils in Adelaide are looking to do something about it.

For those wanting to fight their own rising electricity bills, take note that solar power generation is part of both councils' strategies for improving energy efficiency.

Norwood, Payneham & St Peters council saw an 11 per cent rise in their power bill in the 12 months to November. It came to $856,000, up on $771,000 for the previous year.

A spokeswoman for the council told the East Torrens Messenger that several strategies were now on the table to slash its electricity bill.

What does the council plan to do? Why, call in an expert. The council is considering whether hiring an energy consultant could help it work out ways to cut its power expenses.

They will also look into the possibility of increasing the number of rooftop solar panels currently installed in the city on council buildings, car parks and reserves.

The first step will be identifying which structures use the most power.               

"This will help the council to prioritise which buildings will be addressed first, should a plan be adopted in the future," said the spokeswoman.

Fellow Adelaide eastern suburb Campbelltown finds itself in a similar position. Its power bill rose seven per cent over the past year.  

Like many Australians faced with rising electricity bills, Mayor Simon Brewer was not impressed. He pointed out that when council power costs rose, households were affected too.

"We can't absorb the cost and have to pass it on (which) is how it affects ratepayers in the end," said Mr Brewer.

The council had done energy audits, installed energy efficient light bulbs and put solar panels on council buildings, all to keep costs down.

Now it has allocated funds to put a heat reflective coating on the roof of the council administration building.

The building already has rows of photovoltaic panels as part of a 33 kW system which also extends to the council Function Centre roof.

With a total of 165 panels, the Council Office and Function Centre generates around 45 MWh. According to the council, that's enough to power 15 efficient homes.

The council is not shy about showing off its solar power system. An info screen in the foyer of the administration building provides live data on how much electricity is being generated.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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