Power to the people
RACV donates $1 million in solar energy systems for bushfire-prone communities.
The catastrophic bushfires of last summer that devastated many regional towns highlighted the importance of energy resilience during a natural disaster.
Lights went out, refrigerators switched off and water pumps lost power as electricity poles and wires burned.
“When it’s 40 degrees and it’s dark and you have no running water and there’s a bushfire – in those moments it’s incredibly important to have a reliable power supply,” says RACV Solar chief executive and Gippsland resident Andy McCarthy.
Bringing reliable power to bushfire-prone regional communities is at the heart of an ambitious $1-million plan by RACV to install solar panels and batteries, free of charge, on 28 community halls, recreation centres, sporting facilities and other public buildings in bushfire-prone areas across Victoria.
Over the next two years, RACV Solar will design and install solar and battery systems for buildings that play an important role in the community during emergency situations, including sites designated as Emergency Relief Centres, Neighbourhood Safer Places and Bushfire Places of Last Resort.
Each installation will include rooftop solar plus a battery that can provide back-up power in case the grid goes down, even when the sun isn’t shining. “We’re not just putting solar panels on the roof so people can save on electricity,” says Andy. “We’re providing energy resilience so people will have electricity when they critically need it.”
The program builds on RACV’s commitment to providing renewable energy for more Victorians and will extend beyond regions directly affected by last summer’s bushfires to include communities across the state, from the Grampians in the west to the Otways and high-country towns such as Biggara.
“We want to support communities that have been really hit hard by this year’s bushfires,” says Andy. “But we also recognise that regions right across Victoria are becoming increasingly bushfire prone.”