Crowing about solar

SPORTING clubs in Fremantle could save thousands of dollars a year if Fremantle council helps them move towards renewable energy, says mayor Brad Pettitt.

This week the council adopted a Corporate Energy Plan that sets an ambitious target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, achieved through a mix of reduced power usage, solar panels, being more dogged in the energy market and supporting local renewable energy users.

The plan was produced by Josh Byrne and Associates, InfraNomics and Merz Consulting and aims to make the transition as cost-effective as possible. For example, they claim that the council could save $5 million over 20 years by switching park and street lights to LED and breaking Western Power’s shocking, monopolistic price-gouging.

• Roosters committee member Andrew Crellin and club member Peter Goodes talk solar with Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt.

Under the utility’s rules, it treats each street light in the city as an individual, billable item. This keeps them under a cap that would allow the council to enter the energy market and seek a better deal.

This cosy deal for Western Power allows it to get away with charging the council more than 4.5 times as much for a single 80W street light as the most competitive energy supplier does in NSW.

The report’s authors argue part of the extra cash amounts to an indirect tax.

They also recommend the council turn its properties into a mini-grid that would also allow it to seek better deals on the green energy market.

Solar panels feature less than you’d expect in the equation, with the main energy supply likely to come via a power-purchasing agreement the council has agreed to sign up to with the proponents of a solar farm on the old South Fremantle tip site, says mayor Brad Pettitt.

But he says the city’s sporting clubs are ripe for solar panels on their clubrooms, and if the council pays for installing them and recoups the costs over a few years, it will make them more sustainable financially.

This week he moved an amendment to an agenda item on the energy plan to explicitly rope in the clubs.

The Fremantle Roosters rugby league club, which has local roots stretching back to the 1800s, is keen to become involved in the new-fangled technology at its Beaconsfield clubrooms.

Committee member Andrew Crellin says it costs about $1500 a month to run pumps to water their four playing fields and run lighting.

“The bills in the off-season are what hurts; from September to March we have no income, but with $1500 a month bills you start to rack up a debt before you even start,” Mr Crellin says.

He says the Roosters have just won the men’s and women’s grand finals on the back of strong membership, but facilities are so dated they’re becoming dangerous. Releasing funding usually sucked up by utility bills will help with crucial repairs.

by STEVE GRANT

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