Address: 377 Ardmona Rd, Ardmona VIC 3629
Environmental upgrade: 100kw solar PV system
Key drivers: Reduce cost and lower environmental impact
Interaction with SMF: Engaged SMF to finance EUA under a fixed rate arrangement
How do you find the time to research and execute money-saving strategies – while improving your contribution to the environment at the same time?
Peter Hall is an orchardist for Integrity Fruit in the Goulburn Valley. The storage, processing, and cleaning of fruit takes a lot of energy and water – and this, unfortunately, means high power bills.
With tight profit margins and high labour costs in mind, Peter looked to gain efficiencies in other areas of the business. Peter knew solar energy would help Integrity Fruit to stay competitive. “It all started when we started to requote our electricity contracts. We started looking at alternative energy sources primarily because of the cost of electricity and secondly because everyone has a concern about the environment and what sustainability means.”
Funding a solar installation via an EUA (environmental upgrade agreement) was Peter’s best bet. But with little knowledge of solar systems – and how to finance them – Peter was unsure where to look for advice.
With quotes for a solar installation at hand, Peter reached out to SMF Sustainable Melbourne Fund) for help. Peter says the process for applying was straightforward: “We looked at the sort of requirements we needed to comply with, and once we’d done all that and had looked at all the details, we proceeded.”
A fixed rate EUA provided a great advantage; calculations were simple to make and removed risks associated with taking out short-term variable rate finance.
Peter continues, “One of the pleasant surprises is that it was very easy for us.” The Greater Shepparton Council was supportive of the initiative at the farm, and SMF was always quick to respond if he had questions. He says, “We were always able to access information in a timely way. I’d have no hesitation in recommending it.”
Although Peter was initially concerned whether the arrangement would be commercially competitive, he now has no regrets.
“The EUA was effectively the same as any other financial model. It certainly opened the door to an innovative way to fund projects.”
The team benefits too. He states, “Taking out an EUA gives staff the sense that we are progressive; that they’re working for a company that’s innovative. It’s good for people, for our region, for the environment and the world.”