Magnetic Island will continue to be a solar power hot spot with the vast majority of customers involved in the Townsville Queensland Solar City project opting to purchase Ergon Energy’s solar PV systems.

Ergon’s Manager Residential and Small to Medium Enterprises Brian Elmer said the Townsville Solar City project on the island wrapped up in 2013 and Ergon has been working with participating hosts to sell and transfer ownership of the solar PV systems or have them removed.

“One hundred and eighty residents and businesses agreed to host 211 solar PV systems on their roofs and hosts were given two options following the conclusion of the project – to purchase the systems at a reduced price or have them removed.

“The response so far has been that the majority of hosts (157) have agreed to purchase the systems. Only 22 have opted to have the system removed and we are currently finalising talks with the remainder of hosts.

“We have engaged a local electrical contractor to carry out the electrical works to connect the systems to the customers’ side of their switchboards or remove them. Discussions are also underway with several organisations to use the returned panels. The systems on Ergon’s own buildings will remain in place, and may well be supplemented with some of the returned panels,” he said.

The Solar Cities project, one of seven Australian Government projects, delivered significant benefits to customers, the environment and Ergon, with reductions in peak demand, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Ergon was also able to defer the proposed undersea supply cable by about 10 years, saving an estimated $20 million in construction.

Key Townsville Queensland Solar City outcomes include:

  • The initiative reduced peak demand on the island by 16 per cent (in real terms) down to 2005 levels and Greenhouse gas emissions were also reduced by 54,000 tonnes.
  • More than 200 solar PV systems were installed and connected to Ergon Energy’s grid.
  • More than 1500 smart meters were installed on customers’ switchboards.
  • 350 kilowatts of energy efficient light bulbs were installed to replace old lights.
  • Several hundred old inefficient appliances were replaced and removed from the island.
  • The roof of a community skate park facility was covered with solar panels and the associated facilities enhanced.
  • An old community building was revamped to serve as the project office and community information centre. At the conclusion of the project, the building was handed back to the Townsville City Council and it is now leased by the island’s Men’s Shed group.

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