How solar is securing rural bushfire ‘last resorts’


The Mighty Hepburn Burras footy club will have the sun at their backs next season when they return to their home ground, Hepburn Recreation Reserve, after the Hepburn Shire Council installed a 25.08 kW solar system and a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery at the facility. 

The Hepburn Recreation Reserve is not just any old footy ground, it is also a nominated “place of last resort” in bushfire season. After the Black Summer Fires, not only are Australians becoming more aware of the impact of climate change and the role of renewable energies in its expiation, but also the role renewable energies can play in the face of the effects of climate change we are already feeling. 

According to the Bendigo Advertiser, the $32,000, 76 panel, Seraphim solar array and energy storage system was installed by Specialised Solar and paid for by Hepburn Shire Council, the community-owned Hepburn Wind, and the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance through a grant from Bank Australia and the Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy.  

Notably, it was a Bank Australia grant and the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance’s Community Solar Bulk Buy program that also funded a 10.48 kW solar installation and Tesla Powerwall 2 at the nearby Malmsbury Fire Station. 

Now, the system is not only cutting Council’s emissions, but also securing the “last resort” facility against power outages, and ensuring that the community has somewhere to go with guaranteed electricity in times of crisis whereby such regional community may have been cut off by fire. 

Hepburn Shire Council Mayor, Cr Licia Kokocinski, told the Bendigo Advertiser that Hepburn and the wider state has been hard hit by bushfires in recent seasons. Only last year a lightning strike started a bushfire that brought emergency crews to resident’s doors in the middle of the night with evacuation orders. 

“This system increases the resilience of the Hepburn community and capacity to plan for and respond to the threat of bushfires,” said Kokocinski. 

Hepburn Football and Netball Club President, Jason Dooley, said that the solar system is a great result for the whole community. “Not only will the new system provide power in a blackout but will also reduce power costs to our community organisation and reduce the carbon footprint of the facility.”

Up the Mighty Burras!

A ZeroNet Energy Town 

Hepburn Shire was selected to be the Z-NET pilot for Victoria under the Sustainability Victoria Take2 Community Transitions Pilot Program because the community and Hepburn Shire Council were so motivated to pursue 100% renewable energy targets.

One of the results of the Z-NET pilot was Hepburn Shire’s Community Transition Plan, a 10-year Masterplan to reach 100% renewable electricity supply, zero-net energy, and zero-net emissions by 2029. A plan to achieve Hepburn’s desire to be a ‘lighthouse community’ for community-owned energy, building with the track record of Hepburn Wind behind it. One of the first steps Hepburn Shire is looking to take is the construction of a solar farm.

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