The competition was tough between Manilla, Bingara, Tenterfield and Bingara but the first town OFF the energy grid in New England goes to Uralla. The Parliament’s Renewable Energy secretary, Lesley Williams, travelled to Uralla to make the announcement.
She said, “Uralla was successful because of its very strong support from the community, local business and local residents but importantly the local government sector.”
Uralla energy bills predicted to plummet
Uralla already utilises solar energy on aged care facilities as well as for heating the local swimming pool. With such move, it is predicted that energy bills of the town will go down significantly.
The town was awarded $105,000 for a feasibility study to determine what combination of renewable energy (which includes wind power and solar) can be made to convert the entire town to green energy.
According to Ms Williams, under the Renewable Energy Action Plan, the government of NSW brought together communities to enable them to become more aware of the renewable energy’s benefits for everyone’s future as well as the town’s future.
She also said that the government has announced that $700,000 will be given to other communicates to help them plan and investigate future targets for renewable energy.
Uralla community support move to 100% renewable energy
After news broke, ABC Local Radio received callers who wanted to share their experiences. According to Neal Howards who runs an electrical business in the town, he decided to invest in solar panels for his home and office.
He said, “we’ve employed more people to install solar panels and metering and even in our showroom and workshops we have solar panels, which make a big difference.”
Another caller, Bridge called to warn pensioners. She said that she had installed solar panels on her home’s roof for 18 months but was late for the rebate scheme which means that the investment on solar will not be able to pay for itself.
“What we have found is that the scheme that came in first was a rebate of 60 cents per kilowatt hour. But in our case we are getting six cents and the only way we could get more, up to 12 cents would be to lose the pensioner rebate,” she says.
Another caller, Karen, said she has a family of 7 living on a solar powered home and she says their sole source of energy is amazing. Many callers agree that using solar power has made it possible for them to have their very own water supply. They’re also ecstatic about the fact that they do not have to rely on electricity companies.
Funding for Uralla for a cleaner future
Uralla’s announcement as being the very first zero net energy town is only the first step towards an even bigger goal that could take a long time to accomplish. Now that Uralla has proven itself to be prepared to cut back on energy, it has received funding from other organizations and the government to further support their cause. Previously they also received $120,000 from the state government to help make NSW the cleanest state and also another funding in 2011 for a campaign to encourage schools and homes to recycle and reuse.