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Switched on energy

SOLAR SAVES MONEY -Rodney Browne (B&DCH) with Taryn Lane (Hepburn Wind) Photo – Helen Tatchell

By Meg Kennedy

A local community group has ‘switched on’ to cheaper and renewable electricity usage, thanks to a grant from a nearby wind farm.
Ballan & District Community House was last year the recipient of a $1500 grant from Hepburn Wind to install energy efficient LED lights, and the results have spoken for themselves.
Facility Manager Rodney Browne said the grants, part of the Hepburn Wind Energy Fund, have enabled the Community House to replace a significant portion of the most often used fluorescent lighting with more energy efficient LED lights.
“The improvement in the quality of lighting in the offices and common areas was immediately noticeable as they were brighter, more even and consistent and contribute positively to the general appearance and attractiveness of the spaces,” said Mr Browne.
On top of the visual benefits, the lights are helping to dramatically cut the facilities energy bills.
The combined installation of solar panels and replacement of older lighting has dropped their quarterly electricity bills from roughly $600 dollars to $170.
“For a small community centre a saving of between $300 and $400 per quarter is significant and has enabled the Community House to redeploy these resources to other projects and activities for the community such as the new Community Artspace and the Ballan Film Society.”
Not only is the House saving on power, they’re dramatically cutting down emissions.
Mr Brown noted the facility has cut its energy usage from roughly 1883 kilowatts of electricity to 869 kilowatts.
The new lights join the installation of a $8,900 solar system, which powers the entire building, helping dramatically decrease energy use and cost.
Hepburn Wind’s General Manager Taryn Lane said the community solar installations are part of a broader aim from Hepburn Wind to help local communities cut their emissions and energy expenses.
Hepburn Wind has donated solar systems to various community buildings throughout Daylesford and are now extending their radius to include close-by Moorabool areas, such as Ballan.
Ballan Community House was also part of the Ballarat-based BREAZE Community Power Hub, which assists renewable energy projects in the region.
“Ballan lands in that sweep zone and we just really want to see this whole district reach 100 per cent renewable. So, if we can contribute to that, that’s great,” said Ms Lane.
“If there are other community centres that are interested, they can reach out to us,” she said.
More information on the Hepburn Wind Energy Fund can be found by visiting http://hepburnwind.com.au.