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Bendigo council inks deal to deliver major solar deployment program

https://www.pv-magazine-australia.com/2022/05/27/bendigo-council-inks-deal-to-deliver-major-solar-deployment-program/

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The former gold mining boom town of Bendigo in central Victoria has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with retailer Mondo Power for the provision of renewable energy via solar PV systems to be installed on more than 70 of its city-owned buildings.

As part of the agreement Mondo, which specialises in commercial and community distributed energy offerings, will partner with Victorian solar installation company RACV Solar to deliver the solar PV systems on city-owned properties in Bendigo, about 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

Bendigo Mayor Andrea Metcalf said through the agreement Mondo and RACV Solar would install and maintain solar PV systems on up to 78 city-owned facilities, with ownership of the solar panels reverting to the city after 20 years.

“The renewable electricity generated by the solar system will be billed back to the city and community tenants of the buildings at a competitive fixed cost for the life of the contract,” she said.

“This will result in power cost savings to the city and the city’s tenants of approximately $2.4 million over the full 20 years and is possibly one of the largest solar deployment programs for a Victorian council.”

Metcalf said the PPA is a key action of the city’s environment strategy, which set a target to install solar PV systems on 90% of city-owned buildings by 2026.

“By entering into this agreement, we can achieve the target without funding it through rates or borrowings,” she said. “In addition to achieving power savings for both the city and the tenants of city-owned buildings, it will also increase the supply of renewable energy throughout Greater Bendigo for the benefit of the community.”

RACV Solar will help install and maintain the rooftop systems.

Image: RACV Solar

Australia’s fifth largest inland city with a population of more than 100,000, Bendigo has emerged as a solar PV hot spot with network service provider Powercor including the region in a major works program designed to alleviate grid congestion in areas of high rooftop solar PV penetration.

Greater Bendigo City is also among a group of 46 councils which last year signed an agreement with Melbourne-based energy retailer Red Energy, an offshoot of the federal government-owned Snowy Hydro, to supply the councils with a combined 240GWh of renewable energy each year until the end of 2030.

The first four city-owned facilities to have solar panels installed as part of the new PPA with Mondo will be Bendigo Library, Bendigo Livestock Exchange, and the city’s Depot and Heathcote Service Centre, which will equate to 147kW of solar PV.

The PPA comes at an opportune time for RACV Solar which only last month completed its acquisition of Bendigo-based Cola Solar, central Victoria’s largest dedicated solar retailer.

RACV Solar chief executive Andy McCarthy said in a statement the addition of Cola Solar’s almost 40 employees to RACV Solar will provide another great boost to a business which is fast expanding.

‘We’re looking forward to working with the staff to grow the business over the coming months,” he said. “We’re excited to extend the RACV Solar business into this region, support local residents through this acquisition, and create employment and economic benefits for the regional economy.”

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