From heritage buildings to brand new premises: Wangaratta is going solar

The Rural City of Wangaratta has joined the green revolution, with two solar panel projects saving local businesses energy and money.

The first can be found at Café Martini, housed inside what was formerly the Bull’s Head Hotel. The building was originally constructed in 1866, but a 15kW solar system was easily installed onto the premises – despite being over 150 years old.

Café owner Mark Sorrensen financed the project through an Environmental Upgrade Agreement with the Sustainable Australia Fund. This form of government-enabled finance is used for upgrade works that improve a building’s environmental performance, including solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery projects.

The Café is projected to save $3,164 in its first year of being powered by solar energy. Within the same time frame, it’s also expected to reduce the Café’s emissions by 24 tCO2-e – the equivalent of 4.4 homes’ annual energy use.

Mr Sorrensen is excited to see his savings pile up.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how much of an impact it makes on our electricity bill,” he said. “Leading into summer it’ll be in its peak period, which will be such a saving. And then to think that, if we’re making enough, we can put it back into the grid – that’s beneficial for all of us at the end of the day.”

The second project is located at North East Funerals. During construction of their new premises, Co-Directors Christine and John Haddrick had built an array of energy-saving initiatives into their business, but still needed help reducing their electricity bills. They opted for a 40kW solar system, financed with the Sustainable Australia Fund.

North East Funerals is projected to save an estimated $245,400 or more over the life of the project. Within the same time period, it’s also expected to reduce the business’ emissions by a whopping 993 tonnes of CO2-e – saving 120 homes’ worth of annual energy use.

“This project assists our carbon emissions considerably,” Mr Haddrick said. “We recently received our first electricity account detailing that we had exported more energy to the grid than we used. The financial savings are considerable, and we expect the system to have paid for itself within four years.”

Both systems were designed and implemented by local installer Kennedy Electrical & Solar, ensuring that the funds were kept within the Wangaratta community.

And as Councillor Dean Rees – Mayor of Wangaratta – emphasised, the projects will bring further benefits to the city.

“This program gives our local businesses a great avenue to access finance over a longer term and enables them to reduce operational costs and improve building value,” he said. “At the same time, it brings environmental benefits for the Rural City of Wangaratta, which is something that’s important to the whole community.”


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