Significant energy-bill savings can be made with solar power in almost any business, but the upfront cost of panels and installation can be a barrier, particularly in the not-for-profit sector.
According to Synergy CEO Jason Waters, the initiative was designed to help community organisations save on their electricity costs to make more funds available for projects and facilities which help the community.
“Synergy’s Community Solar Fund is designed to help important community organisations deliver even greater community benefits, by realising the savings possible from renewable energy and enabling them to re-invest these savings into valuable projects,” Mr Waters said.
In 2018, not-for-profit organisations were invited to apply for the inaugural solar fund initiative. A total of 58 finalists were given a free energy audit with energy-saving recommendations customised for the organisation’s energy consumption and strategic goals. Six winners were chosen to receive a commercial solar system.
Supporting families through solar savings
One of the Synergy Community Solar Fund recipients was Ngala Community Services, an organisation which supports parents, carers and families through the journey of raising children, from pregnancy, throughout the school years up to young adulthood.
Ngala received an 80KW commercial solar system which is expected to lead to an estimated energy saving of $20,000 in the first year alone.
Ngala CEO Fiona Beermier said the long-term savings made possible by the roof-top solar system mean support for more families in need, through increased access to their Day Stay and Extended Stay programs.
“The Synergy Community Solar Fund is a massive win for us,” Ms Beermier said. “To be able to redirect savings into projects will ultimately help build more parents’ confidence in those early stages of parenting,”
Custom-designed solutions to help a range of groups
Each of the Synergy Community Solar Fund recipients was given a system tailored to the way they use energy. By using solar to save money on their energy bills, they then have the opportunity to use the money they save to reinvest back into the work they do helping the community.
The other not-for-profit organisations to receive free solar systems were:
- Homestead for Youth – This organisation provides hands-on therapy, including therapy with horses, for at-risk and vulnerable youth in the community.
- Shenton Park Dog Home – It costs a considerable amount to heat and cool the kennels for the lost and abandoned dogs at Shenton Park Dogs Home. Savings from the new commercial solar system will mean more funding for the day-to-day care, medical needs and finding homes for the animals.
- Abmusic – This is an Aboriginal corporation formed in 1986 to support and nurture Indigenous musicians in Western Australia.
- St Vincent de Paul Busselton – This organisation provides community relief services including accommodation, food and furniture and household goods in Busselton, located in WA’s South-West region.
- Margaret River Community Centre – This organisation provides counselling, welfare and charitable facilities and services, and maintain a heritage building in which members of the community meet for social or other purposes.
Collectively, the Synergy Community Solar Fund recipients have the potential to save up to $50,000 per annum on their energy bills.
Applications now open
Synergy will accept applications for the 2019 Synergy Community Solar Fund until midnight on 31 March 2019. To be eligible for an award from the Synergy Community Solar Fund, applicants must be a registered charity, not-for-profit and community groups and have premises located within South West Interconnected System in WA.
Other exclusions apply. Full details are available at synergy.net.au/fund