EnergyAustralia has announced an energy-efficiency program aimed at cutting charities’ electricity bills by up to half, backed by an estimated $15 million raised from the sale of renewable energy certificates.
Under the EnergyAustralia Power for Good program, the company will use net proceeds from the sale to do energy audits of participating charities to identify where and how they can use energy more efficiently and sustainably. Based on the audit’s findings, EnergyAustralia will install batteries, solar PV, and smart energy management systems, and provide advice for upgrading appliances.
“We believe with the right approach and technology, it’s possible to dramatically reduce annual electricity bills for eligible properties by as much as 50 per cent,” EnergyAustralia executive – NextGen Andrew Perry said.
“When we find ways for a charity to spend less on electricity, it means more of the funds they raise can go toward doing what they do best – helping vulnerable people in need.”
Under the federal Renewable Energy Target scheme, retailers surrender large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) to the Clean Energy Regulator, offsetting energy produced from non-renewable sources.
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In total, EnergyAustralia handed over 2.6 million LGCs, 78.5 per cent of its group obligations for 2018, selling the shortfall, about 700,000 LGCs, to other retailers.
Retailers have two years to make up any shortfall in LGCs, which EnergyAustralia will do.
“We’ll make good on any LGC shortfall over the next couple of years, which means we will still meet our full responsibility to support renewable energy under the RET, while generating money today that can go to assisting our communities and all customers, no matter their circumstances, to join the clean energy transformation,” Mr Perry said.
“This initiative will also deliver more flexible demand response to help ensure the electricity market can supply reliable and affordable electricity to all consumers.
“The program will add to the more than 50MW portfolio of demand response EnergyAustralia has already built to help the grid meet peak demands.”
The EnergyAustralia Power for Good program will begin with an initial commitment of $5 million in the first year, with a maximum of $15 million committed to the program over three years.
Berry Street, the largest independent provider of child and family services in Victoria and one of EnergyAustralia’s charity partners through its workplace giving program, is working towards becoming the program’s foundation participant.
“We are excited at this opportunity to even further reduce our costs, so that more of our funds can go towards helping children and families in need,” Berry Street CEO Michael Perusco said.
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Mr Perry said the EnergyAustralia Power for Good program was designed so it could be expanded to include other charities and other states. As more charities join, the initiative could eventually create one of Australia’s largest “virtual power plants”, a system where potentially thousands of household or commercial solar and battery systems are linked and managed remotely.
Virtual power plants reduce the need for new large, centralised generation facilities and can be operated to ease demand on the electricity grid at peak times.
The charity program builds on an EnergyAustralia partnership with VincentCare. EnergyAustralia last year provided $500,000 of energy efficient heating and cooling systems at the redeveloped Ozanam House homeless hub and resource centre in North Melbourne, due to open in late March 2019.
The new smart-enabled units will improve living conditions for Ozanam House residents and visitors and can be managed remotely to ease demand on the national electricity grid and reduce overall energy costs for VincentCare.
“Our partnership with EnergyAustralia is leading the way to not only better energy solutions for our flagship Homeless Hub, but also to cleaner and more efficient solutions for a future energy grid,” CEO of VincentCare Quinn Pawson said.
“It’s a great initiative.”