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Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP)
The Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP) is an innovative way to buy renewable energy as a group. We joined MREP in 2014 to invest in the construction of a purpose-built 39 turbine, 80 MW windfarm. The MREP group includes Melbourne local governments, universities, cultural organisations and corporations. The turbine and wind farm are at Crowlands, which is near Ararat in north-west Victoria.
The wind farm gives all MREP members access to clean renewable energy. Melbourne-based clean energy company Pacific Hydro owns and operates the wind farm. The retail arm of Pacific Hydro is Tango Energy, who supply the power.
Since 2019, we have changed all our electricity use in Council buildings to come from 100% renewable energy. This is because of our involvement in MREP. This change to renewable energy has allowed us to reduce our carbon emissions by 69% since 2011.
We started buying all our electricity for our operations from the Crowlands Wind Farm in January 2019. This includes all street lights, Council-owned buildings, public barbecues, and electric cars. As a result, we are now powered by 100% renewable energy and have been able to reduce our emissions by 70% since 2011.
Over the next 10 years this wind farm will supply all our electricity. We have organised this under a group power purchasing agreement. Having this agreement in place provides us with long-term price certainty. It also helps us to mitigate the risk of increased energy costs in a volatile market for its operations.
All MREP members have committed to purchasing 88 GWh of electricity per year. This is equal to taking over 22,000 cars of the road each year.
We also feed the power that members don't use back into the wider electricity market. This raises the amount of renewable energy that the community can access. This also lowers the emissions generated from the electricity sector.
The MREP project created more than 140 regional construction jobs, and 8 ongoing maintenance jobs. It also provided benefits to the local community. One benefit was the installation of a rooftop solar system and storage battery for the Crowlands town hall. This made the venue one of regional Australia’s first solar powered public halls.
Solar energy system opportunity for leased Council buildings
We wanted a way for tenants of Council-owned buildings to make energy savings. So we developed a program to deliver cost savings through installing solar panels.
We have installed solar energy on 14 participating community buildings so far. These installations are providing tenants savings of over $800 on average each year. In 2017 we won the United Nations Association of Australia Environment Day Clean Energy award for this program.
If you are interested in finding out more you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You have to be a tenant of a Council-owned building and pay for your own electricity to qualify for the program.
This program rests on an agreement that we make with a tenant of a Council-owned building. We agree to pay for the installation of a solar energy system for the tenant's leased building. The tenant agrees to repay these costs using the savings they make on their electricity bills. The period of repayment is usually 7 to 10 years.
We ensure that the tenant's repayment charge is less than their electricity savings. This allows the tenant to get reduced energy costs immediately, as well as no upfront costs.
After the agreed repayment period, there are no more charges. Tenants will then receive 100% of the savings from the solar energy system. There are no further obligations for the tenant. We maintain ownership of the solar energy system, and will operate and maintain it for it's lifetime.
If lease for the building is not renewed, the solar panels will remain on the building. The exiting tenant will not be liable for any future repayments. In this case, the environmental charge would be transferred to the new tenant.
- We can arrange site visits and solar quotes for interested community groups.
- We create the agreement for your group and provide support throughout the process.
- You will get an immediate reduction in electricity bills following installation that can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
- You won't need to bear the upfront cost of solar panels, we provides funds with no interest. This means that you can be cash flow positive from day one.
- You get to retain the feed-in-tariff, which is the amount you are paid for selling unused energy back to the grid.
- Once you pay off the solar panels, you can reap the full savings benefits of having the solar installed. The analysis from our test case indicates potential savings of 30% on energy bills.
- Any maintenance of the solar panels is our responsibility for the full lifetime of the system.
- You will have a reduced environmental impact, and contribute to our transition as a community to zero carbon.
We choose suppliers for this program through our procurement process. This ensures that we get good quality panels and reputable retailers. It also ensures that installers meet our minimum standards.
We do this to save tenants from having to chase quotes and decide between products and offers.
In 2017, Brunswick Bowls Club installed 72 solar panels through our program. There was no upfront cost to the club for this installation. The system has reduced their carbon impact by over 150 tonnes.
Their estimated yearly savings from the solar panels was $5459, and their annual repayment amount was $4000. This left an estimated $1459 in savings after they had made their repayments.
Participating Community Groups
Fawkner Bowls Club
Lake Park Kindergarten
Denzil Don Kindergarten
Barry Beckett Children's Centre
Shirley Robertson Childcare
Brunswick Bowls Club
Reynard Street Neighbourhood House
Anne Sgro Children’s Centre
Coburg Table Tennis Club
Glenroy Bowls Club
Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning Centre
Dunstan Reserve Child Care Centre
Moomba Park Kindergarten
Upgrades to Merri-bek Council buildings
We've made a number of upgrades to Council owned buildings in Merri-bek. We have also produced case studies on these upgrade projects to provide you with more details.
- Moreland Civic Centre in Coburg we installed a 128kW solar system on the roof of the Civic Centre.
- Brunswick Town Hall and Library case study: upgrades covered heating, cooling, and the building energy management system.
- Coburg Leisure Centre case study: upgrades covered double-glazing windows, pool blankets, high efficiency condensing boilers, lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades, and an 80kW solar system.
- Fawkner Leisure Centre case study: upgrades covered lighting systems, cogeneration system, heating and ventilation system, hot water system, and more.
- Fawkner Library case study: upgrades covered lighting systems, ceiling insulation, HVAC plant replacement.
We have also created some fact sheets about the improvements we've made to our buildings. You can download these to find out more about how our upgrades reduce our emissions.