RACV’s $1 million investment in free solar energy systems for regional Victorians is on track with the program reaching its halfway mark in the two-year program of installations.
As part of the program, twenty-four towns across Victoria are receiving a solar and battery system worth about $40,000 on average. This is the largest program of its kind being rolled out by a non-government organisation in Australia with twelve installations already completed.
Solar panels and batteries are being installed on community halls, sporting grounds and recreation reserves that act as emergency safe places and relief centres during bushfires and other extreme weather events. Each installation includes rooftop solar plus a battery that can provide back-up power in case the grid goes down.
As well as being designated meeting points in an emergency, these facilities play a broader community role as hubs for events, sport and other activities.
The twelve completed installations have taken place across Victorian regions, in Omeo, Tallangatta, Wairewa, Wodonga, Goongerah, Clifton Creek, Yea, Aireys Inlet, Calivil, Anglesea, Heathcote and Dederang and will be followed by sites including Winchelsea, Hamilton, Harrietville, Hawkesdale, Warrnambool, Balmoral and Mirranatwa.
Community events have been hosted by RACV in Omeo and Tallangatta providing opportunities for local communities to come together and learn more about solar power and its benefits. Further events have been planned throughout 2021, restrictions permitting.
RACV Solar CEO Andy McCarthy said RACV is making solar energy more accessible for Victorians.
“The bushfires of summer 2020 that devastated many regional towns highlighted the importance of energy resilience during a natural disaster,” Mr McCarthy said.
“We’re not just putting solar panels on the roof so people can save on electricity. We are providing energy so people will have electricity when they really need it in critical situations.
“This is particularly important as so many regions across Victoria are becoming increasingly bushfire prone and vulnerable to more extreme weather events, such as the recent storms that saw many without power across the state.”
RACV has proactively reached out to local councils and community groups to identify the most suitable sites that would deliver the greatest benefit to each community. Many of the sites are in remote locations where electricity supply from the grid is unstable and where access can often be constrained.