RACV continuing to power regional Victoria’s regeneration

Clifton Creek Community Centre

Tom Hounslow

Posted February 18, 2022

More than two years after the devastating Black Summer bushfires, RACV is continuing to help regional towns keep the lights on when they need it most.

Thanks to RACV’s Solar in the Regions program, East Gippsland’s Swifts Creek Community Hall, Wairewa Hall, and Clifton Creek Community Centre are now operating using solar power and battery storage – at no cost to the communities.

With the new upgrades to the buildings’ infrastructure, these towns can now rest easy knowing they can function independently during an emergency or grid outage.

As seen during the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, it is imperative that vulnerable and remote communities are able to maintain communications and utilise critical power sources during natural disasters – even when the grid goes down.

"Being able to keep the lights on, have refrigeration and power our recovery efforts in these buildings means our towns can now keep the essential services running when they need it the most," said East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor, Cr Mark Reeves.

"Aside from emergency recovery, these systems will assist in reducing the power running costs of the building for all the activities and events that are held in these spaces. Council is very pleased to have been part of the Solar in the Regions program.” 

RACV Solar East Gippsland

Gippsland’s recovery

During the Black Summer bushfires, few areas of Victoria were hit harder than the Gippsland region. Many farmers and local business owners are still in the process of rebuilding two years on - a challenge only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having witnessed the devastation first-hand, RACV Solar East Gippsland Manager Landon Moss says the program has delivered a vital tool to help the Victorians who need it most.

“My local East Gippsland region was devastated by the bushfires of 2019-2020. Our teams did what they could to support the community at the time, such as building and donating mobile solar and battery systems and helping to deploy generators to areas in need,” said.

“There were so many stories of tragic loss but an equal number of incredible acts of kindness and working together. I have been reflecting on how my friends, family and fellow community members were impacted by the bushfires, and how much delivering this project means a lot to me on a personal and professional level.

While the Gippsland region suffered immeasurable loss in the summer of 2019-2020, as shown in the Living With Fire series, the impact bushfire has in Victoria is profound, which is why RACV is proud to help support these communities.

“The scale of what the Solar in the Regions program has achieved, and the impact it’s had on the psyche of the towns – many of them still recovering – has been heart-warming. It helps us all understand the significant role that solar can play in the future.”

Swifts Creek, East Gippsland

The $1 million Solar in the Regions program was established to help community buildings ustilise solar power and battery storage.

Solar in the Regions program

Following the devastation of the Black Summer bushfires, the $1 million Solar in the Regions investment program was established to improve safety for regional towns by adapting community buildings and installing solar power and battery storage to make them more resilient in extreme weather events.

The recent installations in East Gippsland by RACV Solar include:

  • Swifts Creek: 12kW rooftop Solar system and 9.6kWh of battery storage
  • Clifton Creek: 7.35kW rooftop Solar system and 16kWh of battery storage with backup power, system installed ready for future Generator integration. 
  • Wairewa Hall: 10.36kW rooftop Solar system and 12kWh of battery storage with backup power, system installed ready for future Generator integration.

By comparison, a typical solar system of 6.6kW, can save the average home between $1,100 and $1,500 per year depending on factors including energy usage profile, location, and the energy plan they are on.

The latest installations in East Gippsland add to the 21 installations across Victoria on regional community halls, sporting grounds and recreation reserves to date, including Omeo, Tallangatta, Wodonga, Goongerah, Clifton Creek, Yea and Aireys Inlet

Sites in Winchelsea, Hamilton, Harrietville, Hawkesdale, Warrnambool, Balmoral and Mirranatwa are earmarked for future installations.


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