A clever energy-saving initiative undertaken by Carpentaria Shire Council has seen Council slash its energy bills by $120,000 per annum.
Backed by Works for Queensland funding, Council engaged an energy-management specialist to undertake a review across several of its buildings, which identified a number of areas where significant savings could be made as well as installing fit-forpurpose solar systems.
Council’s Water and Waste Manager, Ben Hill, said the savings will contribute to council’s financial sustainability.
“As a small council, the savings are quite significant and can be better utilised in other areas of operations to ensure council remains financially sustainable into the future,” Mr Hill said.
Small but significant areas for improvement were able to be actioned quickly—and relatively cheaply—by Council’s electrician, including the reconfiguration of an air conditioning system, reconfiguring pump controls across various areas, and replacing inefficient equipment such as lights, pumps
Solar totalling 314kW has been installed across eight council sites, with the centrepiece being the ‘ecoport’ at Council’s administration building. The ecoport produces approximately 40 per cent of the office’s power as well as providing shade for the carpark.
Mr Hill told the North Queensland Register there have been secondary benefits of the solar installations as well, as they’ve had a cooling effect on the sheds and buildings they’ve been installed on.
“…we were looking at sheeting them and putting in aircon, but when we put the panels on the roof, it’s reduced the temperature by about 10 degrees in the middle of the day,” Mr Hill said.
“[Plus] due to the size of some buildings, they were using a higher tariff charge.
“By putting solar panels on, we’ve actually got it under the threshold and we’ve been able to basically change the tariff to a cheaper rate.”
Ben Hill's tips for councils to save on energy bills
- Engage a reputable specialist to review current practices and provide advice on what can be implemented.
- Ensure that designs and installations are undertaken by trusted, reliable companies so that you get best value for money long-term.
- Think about simple changes you can make such as tariff reviews, controls/equipment upgrades and behavioural changes.
- Factor in the costs of maintaining the systems, including cleaning of panels, monitoring and component replacement/disposal.