By Romy Stephens
Sport may have ground to a halt because of Covid-19, but that hasn’t stopped some clubs in Yarra Glen from scoring goals – sustainability goals that is.
The Yarra Glen Football Netball Club and Yarra Glen Bowls Club have recently finished installing solar systems on their roofs thanks to the help of community-owned solar enterprise, Yarra Glenergy.
Yarra Glenergy was in charge of dispersing $100,000 from the sale of the local Infant Welfare Centre through supporting solar energy projects.
Yarra Glenergy president Chris Flight said the enterprise initially looked for opportunities to charge businesses for solar, at a greatly reduced cost, and then reinvest income.
But due to the nature of businesses in Yarra Glen, he said that wasn’t possible.
“We had been looking at some behind-the-meter type opportunities but lots of the businesses in the valley, in Yarra Glen, have actually got leased buildings,” Mr Flight said.
So instead, it was decided the panels would be donated to community organisations and with sporting clubs being “the heart” of the town, they were the best fit.
“It gives an immediate benefit to the community by providing free electricity for the valued local community organisations in Yarra Glen,” Mr Flight said.
The bowls club installation was completed at the end of April, followed by the football club at the end of May.
Yarra Glen Football Netball Club treasurer David Ball said he expected the solar panels would provide significant savings for the club.
“Our power bills over the last 18 months have gone up quite significantly,” he said.
“Our power bills through winter are up to $1200 a month so if we can take half of that out, that would be amazing.
“It (the money saved) would help with equipment, jumpers, trainer supplies and all the things that we need.”
Mr Ball added that the timing of the solar panel installation was ideal.
“With Covid-19 all of our revenue has disappeared,” he said.
“Sponsors are helping but we’ve got no gate money, we can’t run a function, we can’t run our normal raffles.
“It’s been a bit of a godsend for us this year, but going forward it’s going to be great because as we do have functions and we use more power, it won’t cost us like it was.”
Both Chris and David also acknowledged the role that Yarra Ranges Council played in ensuring the solar panel installation could go ahead.