Port Fairy to get smart on energy bills

26 June 2018

Port Fairy could become the site of south-west Victoria’s first Smart Energy Precinct as local businesses, organisations and community groups combine to address rising power bills.

The Port Fairy Smart Energy Precinct is a partnership between Bamstone, Southern Ocean Mariculture, Sun Pharma, Moyne Health Services and Wannon Water, with additional support from Deakin University and South West Community Energy.

The concept will be launched publicly at the South West New Energy Roundtable to be held at Deakin University tonight.

The partnership will investigate how local renewable energy solutions can reduce operating costs for local businesses, improve security of energy supply, provide price certainty and deliver environmental benefits.

Spokesperson Mike Steel, Bamstone Managing Director, said the multi-million dollar precinct was an exciting and innovative initiative for the region.

“It’s a powerful example of how local leadership can demonstrate solutions for regional development whilst tackling climate change,” Mr Steel said.

“On a per-capita basis, Port Fairy is a high-energy user in comparison with other towns its size in Victoria. This is driven by the large manufacturing sector that is a significant local employer for the region.” Mr Steel said.

Reducing energy costs by up to 50 per cent will support local businesses and industries to remain competitive. This will also help retain industries, organisations and jobs within the region.

Mr Steel said Port Fairy was also facing challenges from climate change. “The project will identify how we can reduce Port Fairy’s greenhouse gas emissions and costs to the community. By showing leadership, we are helping in the development of innovative solutions to the challenges of

climate change while maintaining the liveability of the local community.” The project is in its first phase, with investigations on potential sites and technology options now underway. These include wind, solar, biogas, geothermal and wave energy generation, smart energy contracts, microgrids and energy storage.

The partnership group will also consider how the precinct could provide spin-offs for the education, training and tourism sectors.

Mr Steel said community and stakeholder consultation would be essential in developing the Smart Energy Precinct. “That feedback will help the partnership to understand the community’s ideas and concerns and will be considered alongside key technical information to also allow us to short-list options before determining a preferred approach.”

The group is currently investigating funding sources for the project which it hopes to develop in the next few years.