EnergyAustralia to help charities slash power bills with solar+storage

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One of Australia’s three major electricity retailers, EnergyAustralia, will install batteries, solar PV, and smart energy management systems, and provide advice for upgrading appliances under a new energy-efficiency program that aims to cut charities’ electricity bills.

Under the Power for Good program, the retailer will use net proceeds from the sale of renewable energy certificates to do energy audits of participating charities and identify where and how they can use energy more efficiently and sustainably.      

The program will begin with an initial commitment of $5 million in the first year, with a maximum of $15 million committed to the program over three years.

“We believe with the right approach and technology, it’s possible to dramatically reduce annual electricity bills for eligible properties by as much as 50%,” said Andrew Perry, EnergyAustralia Executive – NextGen.

“When we find ways for a charity to spend less on electricity, it means more of the funds they raise can go toward doing what they do best – helping vulnerable people in need.”

Under the federal Renewable Energy Target scheme, EnergyAustralia has handed over 2.6 million LGCs to the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), 78.5% of its group obligations for 2018, selling the shortfall, about 700,000 LGCs, to other retailers.

EnergyAustralia explains that its total liability under the RET is about 3.2 million LGCs across two entities: EA Yallourn Pty Ltd, which has met 100% of its liability for 2018, and EA Pty Ltd, which  has met 62.3% of its liability. According to the rules, retailers have two years to make up any shortfall in LGCs.    

“We’ll make good on any LGC shortfall over the next couple of years, which means we will still meet our full responsibility to support renewable energy under the RET, while generating money today that can go to assisting our communities and all customers, no matter their circumstances, to join the clean energy transformation,” Perry said.

Since 2017 EnergyAustralia has committed to long-term purchase agreements underpinning more than 500 MW of wind and solar projects across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, which will help the retailer meets its obligations under the RET.

With LGCs prices on a downward trajectory and the 33,000 GWh RET target at hand, some retailers have opted to pay a penalty and buy cheaper LGCs at a future date – as ERM did in 2017 and was harshly criticized. However, carrying obligations forward was greenlit by the CER, once it became obvious that the RET will be clearly surpassed.

Charitable VPP

With Berry Street, an independent provider of child and family services in Victoria, working to become the program’s foundation partner, EnergyAustralia hopes the initiative could grow into one of Australia’s largest virtual power plants as more charities in other states join.

“This initiative will also deliver more flexible demand response to help ensure the electricity market can supply reliable and affordable electricity to all consumers,” Perry said.

“The program will add to the more than 50 MW portfolio of demand response EnergyAustralia has already built to help the grid meet peak demands.”

The program builds on the retailer’s partnership with VincentCare. Last year, EnergyAustralia provided $500,000 of energy efficient heating and cooling systems at the redeveloped Ozanam House homeless hub and resource centre in North Melbourne, due to open in late March 2019.

“Our partnership with EnergyAustralia is leading the way to not only better energy solutions for our flagship Homeless Hub, but also to cleaner and more efficient solutions for a future energy grid,” Quinn Pawson, CEO of VincentCare, said.  “It’s a great initiative.”

Charitable organizations can express interest in participating in the EnergyAustralia Power for Good program here: PowerforGood@energyaustralia.com.au