A new $15 million Victorian microgrid project will enable small to large businesses in the Latrobe Valley to cut their electricity bills by up to $10,000 per year.

The project, which includes Victorian Government funding of $3 million, will see leading solar solutions company Ovida install, own and operate roof top solar panels, battery storage systems and smart interconnected technology.

Minister D’Ambrosio with Shaun Reardon, Ovida Spokesperson

Minister D’Ambrosio with Ovida Spokesperson Shaun Reardon

The program will create 90 local jobs and see 7.5MW of solar photovoltaics and 1.5MW of battery storage installed at 75 microgrids across the Latrobe Valley.

The project can support approximately 750 separate businesses within the network, making it the largest concentration of microgrids in Australia.

The technology will be installed free of charge with customers opting-in and continuing to have choice over their electricity retailer.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the microgrid program will ensure the Latrobe Valley is at the centre of the shift to renewable energy and lower emissions.

“We’re bringing more jobs to the Latrobe Valley and supporting local businesses – all while driving down energy bills and boosting the reliability of the local energy supply,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

More than 75 direct jobs and 150 indirect jobs will be created as a result of the project, with local solar companies utilised for installation and maintenance. The project has the potential to make the Latrobe Valley a National Centre of Excellence for microgrid technology.

The development of new energy skills and technology in the Latrobe Valley has also been given a boost with three grants from the Labor Government’s Latrobe Valley New Energy Jobs Fund:

  • Federation Training will receive $8,000 to support local businesses by halving the cost of their solar PV installers course for October participants
  • EnviroMicroBio will receive $50,000 for new laboratory and analytical equipment to support local businesses wishing to explore anaerobic digestion for energy production and waste management.
  • Latrobe Valley Engineering Services and Sundermann Water Power will receive $48,400 for development of the Sundermann Water Turbine

The investments come just weeks before Solar Victoria is due to open its base in Morwell, where a team of 15 will begin processing rebate applications.

Construction of the GovHub building at 65 Church Street will start later this year, creating 100 construction jobs and housing up to 300 workers when it is completed in 2020 – including up to 50 Solar Victoria workers.

Ovida spokesperson, Shaun Reardon, said the project will open up new opportunities for regional businesses.

“So far property owners have been the main beneficiaries of solar technology. By paying for the equipment and installation, Ovida is enabling regional businesses, and people who aren’t home owners, to benefit from solar.

“This microgrid technology will considerably drive down operating costs, making businesses more cost-effective, enabling them to reinvest and employ more staff. By building a strong and robust local energy system, it will bring commercial benefits, social prosperity and be a catalyst for future innovation in the region,” said Mr Reardon.

Approximately 7.5MW of solar generation and 1.5MWhs storage will be installed with smart distribution technology provided by Allume’s Solshare system.

The project will generate new data for analysis and sharing with government, industry and communities to address other barriers to solar, such as regulatory and governance issues.

Ovida was awarded the grant funding for its $15.5 million project Solar Partnering Around Regional Communities, together with Moreland Energy Foundation, Allume Energy and RMIT University.

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