St Kilda Town Hall gets solar panels

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Solar panels in St Kilda are cutting costs and greenhouse gas emissions in what is believed to be the biggest solar installation on an Australian town hall.

The 172 kW system is a win for the community and the environment as every year it will save Port Phillip Council about $44,000 on electricity and supply costs while avoiding 300 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The panels covering the roof of the St Kilda Town Hall will generate a minimum of 234,000 kilo-watt hours each year to help power the large, historic building. The system has a minimum life span of 25 years. The only bigger Victorian local government solar array is the system at the Queen Victoria Market.

Mayor Bernadene Voss said Council had already slashed energy use in the St Kilda Town Hall by 34 per cent since 2012 by installing insulation and improving lighting and air-conditioning systems. “This ambitious solar panel installation is another important step towards us achieving our target of zero greenhouse gas emissions for Council operations by 2020,” Cr Voss said.

“This is just the start of a staged rollout of solar panels on other Council-owned buildings including libraries, community centres and the expansion of solar at South Melbourne Market. Local government has the opportunity to be a leader in adopting this clean, cost saving renewable energy source and we encourage other Councils to consider the many benefits of going solar.”

Grattan Institute Energy Program Director Tony Wood said he had no doubt that solar energy, in all its forms, is the critical energy source for our future. “Local Government can be powerful actors in the movie of how this story unfolds, and today’s launch event shows how they can take the lead on behalf of all citizens,” Mr Wood said.

Council’s long-standing environmental efforts also include supporting sustainability networks and running a Toward Zero Community Forum aimed at developing ideas to meet community sustainability targets.

The Community Carbon Cops, a group of energy savers established by Council and the University of the Third Age in 2013, have helped save thousands of dollars and reduced carbon dioxide emissions in Council buildings, including an Albert Park community centre, through initiatives including improved insulation and solar panels. Council is also involved in the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project. Through this program, Council’s greenhouse gas emissions would plummet about 90 per cent with the switch to a 100 per cent renewable energy source.

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