Queensland rolls out $97 million energy efficiency school program

The Queensland Government is rolling out its $97 million Advancing Clean Energy Schools (ACES) project. 

State schools are one of the Queensland Government’s highest energy users. The Queensland Government’s ACES program intends to achieve up to 20 per cent energy cost savings across 872 state schools through solar and energy efficiency measures, and to contribute approximately 35MW of solar and create up to 300 jobs.

State Education Minister, Grace Grace, said the ACES program will be delivered in three phases at Queensland state schools, with Phase 1 now well underway to install solar panel systems at 210 schools.

“Our ACES program will help reduce the energy costs at our schools which are some of the biggest energy users in the state.

“It involves the installation of solar panels and other energy saving devices such as LED lighting and timers on hot water systems.

“ACES will provide approximately 35MW of solar generated electricity, making a significant contribution to the Palaszczuk Government’s target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“Once the program is fully rolled out, it’s expected to deliver a reduction in state school energy costs of up to 20 per cent.”

Ms Grace said the first schools in Phase 1 represented each of the seven Department of Education regions: South East, Metro, Central QLD, North QLD, Far North QLD, Darling Downs/South West and North Coast.

“Solar audits have been carried out at more than 60 of these state schools, and 20 schools have already been equipped with solar panels.

“Phases 2 and 3 will see the program further rolled out to the remaining schools in 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively.”

Two regions, Metropolitan and Darling Downs South West, were awarded to ERM Power, who is one of three partners selected for the overall program.

ERM Power Chief Executive Officer, Jon Stretch, said the ACES contract built on ERM Power’s proven track record in delivering both electricity contracting and energy solutions to the education sector. The awarding of the contract follows a rigorous competitive tender process run by the Queensland Government.

“We are really delighted to have been chosen to work with the Queensland Department of Education to help deliver this important initiative to state schools throughout Queensland.

“We are very pleased to have secured the largest region of schools in the Metropolitan region, and to be able to enhance the strong connection we have with the Darling Downs South West community through the gas-fired peaking power station we operate at Oakey.”

ERM Power has exclusive contracts for the Metropolitan and Darling Downs South West regions and has developed a comprehensive rollout plan to fulfil requirements over three years, in partnership with key partners SmartGrid Partners, The Solar Service Guys, and Solgen Energy Group.

As part of the program, ERM Power is also establishing a $100,000 training fund to provide training opportunities to apprentices and trainees, with the intent of creating a legacy that extends beyond the ACES program of a skilled and capable workforce in Queensland.

“This is a significant contract for our Energy Solutions business and aligns very well to ERM Power’s strategy of creating long-term partnerships within sectors that are focussed on a taking a holistic approach to energy management,” Mr Stretch said.

Mr Stretch commended the Queensland Government for investing in long-term energy efficiency solutions that reduced emissions, supported renewable energy targets and helped create savings for the State which in turn could be reinvested in education and other government priorities.

“The education sector can pave the way for other sectors in not only transforming its energy consumption but orchestrating behavioural change that will lead to sustained savings and schools with a lower carbon footprint.”

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