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SA Water sites in Mount Gambier are being powered with the help of around 470 solar panels part of the utility’s renewable energy project aimed at reducing operating costs and cutting carbon emissions.

Installed at the regional centre’s team depot and wastewater pump station on Commercial Street West, the ground-mounted solar photovoltaic panels will generate a combined 216MWh of clean, green energy each year.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Zero Cost Energy Future, Nicola Murphy, said the sites are among 30-plus solar arrays being strategically placed at treatment plants, pump stations and depots.

“As one of the state’s largest electricity consumers with a power bill reaching $86 million in 2019-20, it’s important we embrace new and exciting initiatives to help keep operating costs low and stable for our customers,” Ms Murphy said.

“We want to set an example of proactive environmental leadership, focused on sustainability and action on climate change, and these solar panels in the heart of Mount Gambier are terrific examples of how we can make a real difference in reducing carbon emissions to the tune of around 92 tonnes every year.

“To put this into perspective, this energy generation is the equivalent of powering approximately 36 South Australian homes for one year.

Ms Murphy said that two new arrays are among more than 360,000 solar panels in the ground across South Australia, which is estimated to all be up and running over the course of 2021. 

One of the largest renewable energy projects in the Australian water industry, SA Water’s zero cost energy future initiative will generate around 242GW hours of solar energy, along with 34MW hours of battery storage.

“Our team is busy getting our sites energised and connected to the national electricity grid ahead of the warmer, sunnier months, where the true benefits of this exciting project will come to the front,” Ms Murphy said. 

“This initiative was designed by our people, and shows South Australians leading the way with the smarts and skills to integrate renewable energy and storage across our existing plants, pump stations and other land holdings.”

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