It was good fortune for Donna Jones that she lived in a Yackandandah estate marked to become one of Australia’s first commercial solar “mini grids” – her family home was already reliant on renewable energy.
From about June, her property will be one of 16 to take part in an AusNet trial using not only solar panels, but batteries to store energy for when the sun goes down.
AusNet invested $250,000 to purchase batteries for the trial and will join the Totally Renewable Yackandandah group on Thursday for two community meetings.
“It’s just an amazing opportunity for us to be a part of that,” Mrs Jones said.
She said by monitoring her home’s smart meter, she could see solar energy being used when the sun was out, but electricity had to be purchased on cloudy days or at night.
The battery will allow excess solar energy to be stored for future use or even sold cheaply to neighbours within the grid, rather than sent back to the electricity companies for little profit.
Mrs Jones said her family tried to consume as little energy as possible at home, to save on electricity bills and build good habits for her three children.
“It’s not just our house, but our community as well,” she said.
“We were always planning to get a battery, but it was probably a few years away … I’m hoping that people who have been umming and ahhing about solar will take advantage of this.”
Yackandandah’s mini grid will work by having the small group of households function as a “unified energy community” using wireless communications and cloud-based software to monitor and control their systems.
TRY co-chair Matt Grogan said the launch would be the culmination of three years of planning and hard work.
“We started TRY in 2014 and have been working hard to develop a plan for Yackandandah that the whole community can be a part of,” he said.
“It’s exciting to be able to show off the very latest in renewable energy technology right here in Yackandandah.”
AusNet community energy manager Mark Judd said all Yackandandah residents would have an opportunity to purchase a Mondo-branded solar system, which would offer hints regarding energy usage and send alerts when it was time to consider installing a battery.
TRY and AusNet Services will hold two information sessions at the Yackandandah Public Hall on Thursday, starting at 11am and 7pm.