Carpentaria council cuts energy bill by $120k

Brandon Long
By Brandon Long
Updated January 10 2022 - 3:37am, first published January 6 2022 - 5:00am
BILL BUSTING: Installing solar panels, changing tariffs and improving pumps has resulted in significant savings for the council.

Carpentaria Shire Council has cut its energy bill by about $120,000 a year after implementing an energy reduction program across several of its buildings.

Backed by state government funding, it installed solar panels, changed tariffs and improved pumps and air conditioning across eight of its sites, reducing its average monthly bill from $29,766 to $19,502.

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CSC water and waste manager Ben Hill said the savings exceeded their expectations.

"So far, it's been about $10,000 to $12,000 a month in savings. Council expected between $80,000 and $100,000 a year, but it looks like we're going to exceed that," Mr Hill said.

In 2020, council engaged a company to install about 680 solar panels totalling 314kW at eight council sites: Karumba pool; Karumba water reservoirs; Karumba sewage treatment plant; Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre; Normanton council depot; Normanton administration office; Normanton pool; and Normanton water treatment plant.

The first system was turned on at the Normanton council depot in April 2021 and the project was finalised in June 2021 for all sites.

The centrepiece of the project is the 'ecoport' at council's main administration building which is now providing approximately 40 per cent of the office's daily power and shade for the carpark.

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SUN SAVINGS: Solar systems totalling 314kW have been installed across eight council sites.

Secondary benefits have been seen by the installations as well, with the chemical dosing room at the water treatment plant now much more bearable to work in during the day.

"A side benefit is a couple of places we put the solar panels have been really hot sheds and we were looking at sheeting them and putting in aircon, but when we put the panels on the roof, it's reduced the temperature by about 10 degrees in the middle of the day," Mr Hill said.

Mr Hill said they had also installed different drives on pumps and changed energy tariffs to make further savings.

"They don't run at full speed all the time. Now they just run at the speed required. We've done the same with the air conditioning system at the main office," he said.

"Due to the size of some of the buildings, they were using a higher tariff charge. By putting the solar panels on, we've actually got it under the threshold and we've been able to basically change the tariff to a cheaper rate."

If more funding becomes available, council may consider expanding on the solar network within the region.

Possibly locations include the second carport at the admin building, Glenore Weir, and an expanded system at Karumba STP.

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Brandon Long

Brandon Long

Queensland Country Life journalist

Brandon Long is a Queensland Country Life journalist based in Toowoomba.

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