Yarra Glen wants businesses for free rooftop solar panel installations

The picturesque Victorian town of Yarra Glen wants local businesses to generate clean energy, and plans to encourage it by offering free solar panels.

Yarra Glen’s grassroots renewable energy group, Yarra Glenergy, is looking for businesses to install solar panels at no upfront cost. Yarra Glenergy will then sell power generated by the panels to the host business in a power purchase agreement. The group has council’s approval, but is a separate entity.

It formed in 2016, following the sale of a local maternal health clinic built in the 1950s. A People’s Panel then came together to decide how to use the $100,000 from the sale to benefit the community.

The town of Yarra Glen is offering businesses free solar panels.

The Victorian town of Yarra Glen is offering businesses free solar panels.

The decision to fund a Yarra Glen Circuit River Walk and a renewable energy project was subsequently approved by Yarra Ranges Council.

Businesses will own panels after 10 years

Yarra Glenergy treasurer Melinda Koth said it didn’t matter if the business hosting the solar panels was large or small. “We’re putting out the EOI to get as many businesses as possible interested,” she said.

“If the business is selected, they will have solar panels installed at no cost, purchase renewable energy knowing the profits will return to community groups and projects, and will take ownership of the system after ten years.”

Yarra Glenergy vice-president Tom Belford told Energy Matters the power produced by the rooftop solar would be sold to the business under a power purchase agreement.

He said this was the first project by the group. After this it would then look for other ways to increase uptake of solar in the region.

The first installation is expected to be completed by July.

Free solar panels part of grassroots approach to solar installation

Yarra Ranges Mayor Len Cox commended the group on its grassroots approach. “We know that sustainable, clean energy is important for the future of the planet and our environment,” he said.

“From the outset, the Yarra Glenergy members have taken ownership of this project, organising letter drops, community meetings and consulting with residents on the street.”

Yarra Ranges is also part of the Victorian Government’s Solar Saver bulk buy scheme for residents. The government requested quotes for solar installation from suppliers, then issued residents loans repayable over ten years.

For more information about Yarra Glenergy’s solar installation project email yarraglenergy@gmail.com