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Solar Island defies energy trend and powers grid

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Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Stephen Robertson

Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson today announced an energy transformation in North Queensland, with a pilot project defying the trend and reducing energy consumption.

"Through the Townsville Solar City project, a joint Commonwealth and State initiative led by Ergon Energy, the people of Magnetic Island have saved 1,350 tonnes of greenhouse gases," Mr Robertson said.

"They have reduced their peak power by 7%, including over the peak summer Christmas/New Year period which is a tremendous result.

"With a predicted peak demand increase of 15% last year in the absence of the Solar City project, the 7% fall from 2008 equates to an overall peak demand improvement of 22%.

"This is a direct result of the Solar City suburb project, with the roll out of education, energy assessments and the installation of the solar systems.

"More savings are expected to follow in 2010."

Mr Robertson said as well as changing the way people use a nd manage power, the Queenslanders involved in the pilot were actually generating power at the same time as they were reducing their carbon footprint.

"The Island is now generating 285 kilowatts of renewable energy for the electricity grid through solar systems that local residents host on their property roofs," he said.

"Importantly, the project is also taking almost as much energy off the grid as it is adding. Over 270 kilowatts of incandescent lighting has been replaced with compact fluorescents in island homes and businesses which has the same effect as taking around 30 homes off the grid every day.

"By changing the way these residents and businesses use electricity, they are saving money, reducing demand for electricity and lowering their greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is a win- win for everyone concerned and the environment."

The project is 18 months into its five-year program and has seen electricity consumption fall on the isl and.

Through the Solar City project, people on Magnetic Island are encouraged to join up which involves having new electronic meters installed, which replace the traditional property metres, as well as solar-generating power systems which feed directly into the grid.

"Already almost two thirds of the island's population - 1,000 residents and businesses - have joined the push to change the way they use electricity," Mr Robertson said.

"Just this week the Solar City energy assessment team performed their 1,000th energy assessment on the island.

"To date, Ergon Energy has installed 1500 new electronic metres and 100 solar photovoltaic systems on house roofs."

Mr Robertson said the next phase of the Solar City project involved establishing a solar park on the island to showcase all manner of solar installations.

"Members of the community have been a key part of the planning process with suggestions to date including a solar lid ove r the skate park and solar shading," said the Minister.

Concepts will be presented to the Magnetic Island community, with work earmarked to start later this year.

Media Contact: Minister's Office 0417 795 583

Ergon EnergyTownsville City CouncilDelfinHoneycombesCafaloQueensland Government