Western Australia primes schools to help communities recover from COVID-19

Coronavirus has made its mark on industries far and wide, and the aftermath is still widely unknown for economies across the globe. But here in Australia, governments are doing what they can to map out recovery plans, in order to help restore economic stability, job opportunities and better future outcomes.

One of these efforts includes Western Australia’s plans to turn schools into virtual power plants (VPPs) as a way to combat climbing electricity rates, create cleaner energy sources and establish benefits for local communities.

Last Sunday, the WA government announced an additional $2.7 billion in funding through its Recovery Plan, with aims to negate the effects of coronavirus. This included $66 million in contributions towards renewable energy, like the $4 million set aside to turn ten schools across South West and Perth into VPPs.

In collaboration with Synergy, the State Government will implement batteries at the schools to store excess power, which can be used across local communities. It’s expected that the construction and operation of these developments will create thousands of job opportunities.

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Establishing more efficient energy outcomes for WA

In addition to the announcement from the State Government, Smart Energy Council chief executive John Grimes said the funding is warmly welcomed for WA. He noted that the VPPs would significantly save money for communities who are feeling the burden of rising energy bills.

“Schools are on leave for about 12 weeks every year and on weekends, and so you don’t want to lose that electricity,” said Grimes. “At the moment, it gets produced and then exported to the grid, but it’s not actually used.”

Grimes noted that power stored in the batteries could be put towards communities requiring energy at night or during harsher periods of summer – both periods of which electricity becomes more expensive to access.

Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the implementation of these batteries at WA schools would create endless outcomes for surrounding residents.

“These are exciting initiatives that will help our State become greener and cleaner, while also creating jobs for Western Australians,” said Johnston.

“Regional Western Australians will be able to enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar and improve power quality in their local communities.

“Schools and public housing will experience lower electricity bills and contribute to reducing their energy footprint as we modernise our power grid.”


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