Energy efficiency comes to East Arnhem communities

Aboriginal-Resource-and-Development-Services
Left to right, back row: Aboriginal Resource and Development Services trainer Joy Bulkanhawuy, Jerome Marungarra Wunungmurra, Len Ganbilpil Dharmarrandji, supervisor Jeffrey Djinipidi Wunungmurra, trainer David Suttle Front row: Sebastian Wanambi, Joyce Wunungmurra, Belichia Baird, and Jodie Wanambi

The Power and Water Corporation-led Manymak Energy Efficiency Project is achieving more efficient electricity use in the Northern Territory’s remote East Arnhem communities of Galiwin’ku, Gapuwiyak, Gunyangara, Milingimbi, Ramingining and Yirrkala.

East Arnhem’s local Yolngu people are at the centre of the design and delivery of the project, relaying important messages and sharing ideas and practice for using less power in the communities. Local energy efficiency officers receive highly valued training and employment, often the first opportunity of its kind for members of these communities.

The officers engage with households to deliver a tailored education package that includes energy efficiency information, retrofitted energy efficient light bulbs and solar hot water systems to around 440 homes, data loggers to capture energy usage statistics from meter boxes, and installation of an in-home interactive usage display to around 250 households.

Even recent Tropical Cyclones Lam and Nathan that hit in February and March this year couldn’t stop the project, with initiatives shifting to communities less affected by the severe weather events.

Reducing energy use is a crucial step in helping remote communities become more sustainable.

Electricity generation is an expensive and often challenging task in Northern Territory’s remote communities due to the vast distances diesel or gas must be transported, and to severe weather, which includes monsoonal rains and flooding that severs road access for months at a time.

The project is being rigorously evaluated to develop as a framework for improved energy efficiency that could be applied in other remote Indigenous communities.

The Manymak Project is led by Power and Water Corporation’s subsidiary Indigenous Essential Services, and is delivered in partnership with consortium members Centre for Appropriate Technology, Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory Department of Housing, and the East Arnhem Regional Council.

Manymak receives funding through the Department of Industry and Science as part of the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program.

The project concludes in communities in December 2015 with reporting due in the first quarter of next year.