Magnetic Island North Queensland
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April 27th 2012
Magnetic Island saves 40% on power

Ian Cruickshank hands over the keys to Al Jacobs Magnetic Islandís Solar Cities project is winding down following a formal handover by Ergon to the, recently established, Magnetic Island Menís Shed, last Saturday. And, with a reduction of 40% of power use across the Island, had not Solar Cities begun its work here, Islanders might feel justifiably proud. This was certainly the opinion of Ergonís Ian Cruickshank, who was full of thanks to Islanders for this impressive achievement.

ďI never miss an opportunity to tell people all around Australia and from many parts of the world about the success of the Solar City Project, and I never miss the opportunity to say that the success is entirely due to you Ė the people of Magnetic Island who have done the hard work and supported the project all the way through,Ē said Mr Cruickshank, the Solar City Energy and Sustainability and Market Development Manager.

Giving thanks to a long list of Islanders who have helped along the way as well as the members of his own team, Ian Cruickshank, said ďThe peak demand on Magnetic Island is now less than it was in 2005 Ė this has meant that the third (very expensive submarine) cable that would have been needed, has been put off for 8 years, and I am confident that the next review will defer it even longerĒ.

Magnetic Island is now generating about 80MWh of clean electricity each month from our 211 solar Photovoltaic systems. This is enough to power 2 large high schools. At times nearly 20% of the power used by the Magnetic Island is generated right here on our roofs.

ďBecause you use electricity more efficiently, and because you host the PV panels, the Island has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by over 43,000 tonnes since the project started,Ē he said.

The theme was picked up by Vern Veitch, Townsville City Councilís most environmentally-minded councillor, who was encouraging Island businesses to promote the Island as destination for sustainability-minded tourism.

On receiving the keys for the Menís Shed, Korean War veteran, Al Jacobs, thanked Solar Cities and explained a little about the Menís Shed movement which has over 700 Ďshedsí across the country and is now the largest mens' support organisation in Australia.

Al also explained that the Solar Cities staff will still maintain a presence on Magnetic Island but in a less significant way. The facility will still be open to local community groups and the Menís Shed will only be utilising the former MI Sport and Recreation Club space until the end of May 2013 when Townsville City Council will call for expressions of interest from community groups interested in taking on the space.

For those in the know, particular thanks should be made to Ian Cruickshank and, the best-known face of the project on Magnetic, Julie Heath, who, with their team, set a very high standard in community engagement. Not least of this resulted in Ergon listening to the community and finding the dollars to locate most of their 100 kilowatt solar park on top of the MI Skate Park as well as major solar panel-bearing community infrastructure nearby. This achievement is, no doubt, a huge benefit to Magnetic Islandís young and young at heart and will be remembered long after the project has departed Magneticís shores.

Story and photo: George Hirst

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Magnetic Island saves 40% on power
Steve Ashton
April 27th 2012
The energy savings achieved by the Solar Cities program are really impressive. That made me think of a really simple thing that Council could do to save more energy and money, which is to turn off the security type area lighting that still runs all night at Picnic Bay over an empty car park. This lighting is a hangover from when the ferry came to Picnic and there was a need to provide safe access to commuter parking after dark. Now it is not required, and simply blasts light out all night for no purpose. It could be replaced with fewer lower power normal street lights of a suitable sustainable design , why not powered by their own solar panels so they use no grid energy?

As an added bonus, Council could use the recurrent savings generated to reduce the amount of asphalt roadway on the west side of Yule St which is no longer required for the same reason, and just make Yule St back into a normal street instead of looking like a supermarket car park.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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