Magnetic Island North Queensland
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December 15th 2011
Solar Cities saves Islanders $900k

The solar skate park is a major feature of the project The Townsville Queensland Solar City project has saved Magnetic Island residents more than $900,000 on electricity bills, according to State Member for Townsville, Mandy Johnstone.

“Consumption levels are now 12 per cent below their peak, having returned to 2007 levels,” she said.

“In August this year alone, residents reduced their energy consumption by 8.5 per cent compared to the same time last year.

“The Townsville Solar City project led by Ergon Energy - is a major Queensland success story,” she said.

Ms Johnstone said the program aims to change customer behaviour to not only reduce their electricity bills but also reduce peak demand.

According to Ms Johnstone, 75 per cent of residents have taken part in the trial, which began in 2007, and have continued to reduce the amount of electricity they use on a daily basis.

“Successful implementation of the project has significantly delayed the need for network upgrades in the area,” she said. 

“This has resulted in the $17 million investment required for an underwater sea cable to Magnetic Island to be deferred for eight years.

“Another benefit of the project includes the installation of 675kW of solar photovoltaic (pv) panels across the island generating the first gigawatt hour of renewable energy.

“This is enough to power a school of 1200 students for two years, so the systems have made a significant contribution to the electricity needs of local residents.

“Maximum demand is now 32 percent lower than projected levels, had the program not been implemented, and greenhouse gas savings are approximately 34,000 tonnes.”

Ms Johnstone said the mainland was also benefiting from the project.

“Last month the Energy Minister and I announced that work would start soon on the region’s largest solar project - a $2 million solar array on the roof of the Townsville RSL stadium.

“The 335kW PV system will produce approximately 1320kWh of energy per day, enough to supply somewhere between two thirds and all of the daytime use of the stadium, or up to half of the daily use.

“The Townsville Solar City project is a blueprint for how the State Government will optimise and roll out energy efficiency programs and initiatives right throughout Queensland. 

The Townsville Queensland Solar City project is part of the Australian Government’s Solar Cities program and is supported by the State Government and Townsville City Council. 


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Solar Cities saves Islanders $900k
 
3 comments
 
DavidJ
December 15th 2011
Benefits aplenty? I am sceptical of big business touting that consumers are winners in such projects. I don’t have access to all details of the project but it would be interesting to explore claims and assess just how better off consumers are. After all the devils in the detail! Heres a few suggestions.

Claim 1. “Consumption levels are now 12 per cent below their peak, having returned to 2007 levels,” she said. What has been the price increase for power in the intervening 4/5 years? Have prices increased more than 12% ? If they have, bills have remained the same in dollar value, there’s no real dollar savings here. Sure there may be a saving in real terms but Northern Queensland isn’t actually setting the National pace maintaining wages in real terms, especially those reliant on superannuation, tourism or affected by cyclones etc. I suggest many have gone backwards and perhaps they are using less because they can afford no other option?

Claim 2 “In August this year alone, residents reduced their energy consumption by 8.5 per cent compared to the same time last year.” Sounds marginal, what was the July and September results? Could weather have influenced the decline in say the use of Aircons?

Claim 3 “Ms Johnstone said the program aims to change customer behaviour to not only reduce their electricity bills but also reduce peak demand” Of what interest is it to reduce electricity bills? I would surmise it’s the organisations lack of willingness to invest in infrastructure and maximise profits here, the reduction in electricity bills is a side effect. It’s a shame voters cant change Ms Johnstone’s behaviour.

Claim 3. “Successful implementation of the project has significantly delayed the need for network upgrades in the area,” she said. “This has resulted in the $17 million investment required for an underwater sea cable to Magnetic Island to be deferred for eight years.” Ahh heres the devil in the detail. And exactly how have residents been rewarded – with nothing, just put up with the same crappy power supply with frequent interruptions for another 8 years, so long as they don’t have to spend anything that’s a win! And what will the cost differences be then? Will it be cheaper putting it off for 8 years? Show me something else that has? This seems the real issue, a reluctance to fund infrastructure maintenance.

Claim 4. “This is enough to power a school of 1200 students for two years, so the systems have made a significant contribution to the electricity needs of local residents.” How is the power usage of a facility that runs from 8 till 4 for children, somehow benefiting people in their home or their electricity needs? Can I expect the school principal to ring and tell me that I have been able to use my fan for half price?

Claim 5 “Maximum demand is now 32 percent lower than projected levels, had the program not been implemented, and greenhouse gas savings are approximately 34,000 tonnes… Ms Johnstone said the mainland was also benefiting from the project”. There’s been a serious decline in tourism and cash flows with places going broke – has that got anything to with peak demand decline? No doubt the mainland is benefiting, they don’t have to put in a power supply and still reap the same in rates and big note their carbon savings etc.

Claim 6 “Last month the Energy Minister and I announced that work would start soon on the region’s largest solar project - a $2 million solar array on the roof of the Townsville RSL stadium.” Well this will add to the profits of the Poker Machine operators!

Claim 7 “The 335kW PV system will produce approximately 1320kWh of energy per day, enough to supply somewhere between two thirds and all of the daytime use of the stadium, or up to half of the daily use. Who gives a toss?

Claim 8 “The Townsville Solar City project is a blueprint for how the State Government will optimise and roll out energy efficiency programs and initiatives right throughout Queensland. I suspect this will be more along the lines as a reason for having to fund infrastructure.

Cheers
DavidJ
 
chasmac
December 17th 2011
DavidJ, I'm interested in your view about the quality of the Magnetic Island electricity mains supply. I live in Nelly Bay on the Arcadia side of Mandalay Avenue so I didn't experience the blackout that affected Picnic/western Nelly during the thunderstorm the other morning. I can't remember having a blackout for quite a while, weeks at least if not months (even since Cyclone Yasi?) so I'm surprised at your comment, ".... And exactly how have residents been rewarded – with nothing, just put up with the same crappy power supply with frequent interruptions for another 8 years, so long as they don’t have to spend anything..." That's a pretty sweeping statement, do you have any evidence?
 
MacJack
February 7th 2012
David says it for me too.


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