Hong Kong-owned EnergyAustralia has announced plans to complete its acquisition of solar and LED lighting company, Echo Group, subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval. The electricity retailer purchased a 49% share in the target company last July and decided to purchase the remaining shares in order to boost its offering of affordable energy solutions.
“We’re excited to continue our joint work of supplying businesses and households with energy products and services that save money,” EnergyAustralia Chief Customer Officer Mark Collette said on Tuesday.
Brands under the Echo Group umbrella include Cherry Energy Solutions (focused on integrated C&I solutions); Littil LED (energy-efficient lighting) and Eko Energy (serving the residential market for rooftop solar and energy efficiency).
Established in 2012 with four employees and three warehouses in a suburban park, Echo has grown its business to a 70-plus person operation, including an in-house solar and LED installation team based in Melbourne’s southeast. To date, the company has installed more than one million LED lights and completed thousands of solar installations.
Echo’s business expanded as companies became increasingly aware of the role of energy prices in their operational expenditures and started turning to solar PV and energy efficiency to slash their energy spend. As Echo Group Chief Operating Officer, Ben Wright, told pv magazine Australia last year, the company’s solar proposals for businesses generally see a 30% to 40% reduction in energy drawn from the grid, while its lighting proposals for day-night operations can reduce energy consumed by illumination needs by as much as 80%.
“This acquisition further reinforces Echo Group’s position as a reliable, long term stable partner for each and every one of our customers. There will be no disruption to how we work as a result of the acquisition,” Echo said in a statement on Tuesday. “Echo Group welcomes EnergyAustralia as the 100% shareholder and looks forward to enjoying continued success nationally as we work through current economic challenges and into the future.”
For EnergyAustralia, the acquisition decision followed its move to invest in over 800 MW of solar and wind capacity in recent years, including power purchase agreements with Coleambally, Ross River, Manildra and Gannawarra solar farms. In addition, the retailer operates two utility-scale battery storage systems – the stand-alone Ballarat terminal station and co-located Gannawarra solar farm battery assets that represent combined storage of 80 MWh.
For a while, EnergyAustralia had the largest battery trading portfolio of any retailer in the National Electricity Market which has been overshadowed by AGL’s growing grid-scale battery storage appetite. Last week, Australia’s biggest power producer laid out plans for the deployment of around 1.2 GW of utility-scale batteries across multiple locations, including a massive 500 MW battery system at its Liddell coal-fired power plant.
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