Get ready to meet Jane Judd, Healesville businesses!

Sally Piper (left), the first person who participated in the survey, and Jane Judd. Picture: DONGYUN KWON

By Dongyun Kwon

Healesville Community Renewable Energy (HCoRE) is set to start a short-term project over the next four weeks.

The Solar 4 Healesville Business Project is to engage with local businesses to explore what the business operators see as the opportunities and barriers to installing solar and determine what the possible savings could be for them and the broader Healesville community if business operators go solar.

HCoRE president Karen Roberts said she is excited to actively engage with local businesses.

“We are keen to hear what the local experience has been and what businesses have to say about the benefits and barriers relating to the installation of solar panels,” she said.

HCoRE appointed Jane Judd as a new consultant at the end of April.

Ms Judd said she would visit local businesses in Healesville in person.

“HCoRE wants to find out if some owners may be interested in investing in solar energy which will benefit their tenants. We’re also interested in ideas about how the tenants think would make it attractive to them to put in a solar system,” she said.

“We’re really trying to put information in front of people, there’ll be a knock on the door and a chance for a quick conversation. We want to map who’s got solar in the main street and their interests in the solar power system.

“If they have thought about doing it [putting the solar power system in], we want to help them take the next step of assessing how effective it would be. HCoRE has skilled volunteers who have offered to assess energy bills to work out the savings solar power could offer.”

Ms Judd is referencing the Healesville Business Guide made by the Rotary Club of Healesville to find the locations of the businesses.

Based on the findings from the project, HCoRE will develop proposals and strategies to present to governments about options that would increase the take up of solar power by Healesville business operators.

Ms Judd said HCoRE has had successful activities to make the Healesville community more energy-sustainable since 2017 when it first formed.

“HCoRE helps local people review their own homes and finds out how they could reduce their energy bills and increase their comfort at home,” she said.

“They’ve also helped not-for-profit organisations, Robyn Jane Children’s Centre, Healesville Living and Learning Centre and St Brigid’s Primary School, to put solar power in with the $90,000 grant from the Federal Government and they now have the benefit of solar power and the 15 to 30 per cent savings.”

Ms Judd is a long-term local resident with an extensive local work history and significant decades of experience in community engagement and development projects.

Ms Roberts said HCoRE is delighted to secure Ms Judd to undertake this important piece of work.

“Jane will soon be walking up and down Nicholson Street, inviting those who work there to join in the conversation,” she said.

“This is especially relevant for those who lease their premises. They are part of one-third of Australia’s population who rent and are, therefore, most likely to miss out on the cost-saving benefits of solar power.

“This is a situation that has been vexing organisations with much more resources than we have for a long time, but our aim is to add our voice, and your voice, to the broader conversation.”

The newly appointed consultant said she is very committed to the vision HCoRE has.

“HCoRE wants local residents to benefit from reducing their energy costs and they want to see Healesville itself as being a net zero carbon neutral community by 2027,” Ms Judd said.