Blacktown becomes the first solar city to be launched in NSW

15 November, 2006

Prime Minister, John Howard: "I am pleased to announce that Blacktown will host the first Solar City in New South Wales.

"The Blacktown Solar City consortium - BP Solar, Integral Energy, Blacktown City Council, Landcom, the ANZ and Big Switch Projects - will receive up to $15 million through the Australian Government’s $75 million Solar Cities initiative. The consortium expects to leverage an additional $22 million from industry and other partners.

"The Solar Cities initiative was part of the Australian Government's long-term energy policy announced in 2004.

"Overall, the Australian Government has committed a total of $2 billion to its climate change strategy which aims to develop clean, low-emission technologies; build an effective global response to the issue; increase understanding of climate change science and help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.

"Blacktown is an Australian city of the future - young and diverse, and experiencing a growth in energy requirements. The Blacktown Solar City consortium has engaged this vibrant and growing community to give residents more opportunities to install solar technologies, improve their energy efficiency, save money and help pave the way to a new energy future for all Australians.

"Blacktown Solar City will install more than 860 photovoltaic systems of varying sizes and 2100 solar water heaters. Trialled for the first time, households will be offered a simpler kit which combines two sets of solar panels - one set to heat water and the other to create electricity. This new combined installation takes up less roof space and is cheaper to install than conventional individual systems. Finance packages will be available to assist residents with the up-front costs of solar technologies.

"Residents and business owners will be able to better understand their energy use through the roll-out of 4000 smart meters. Over 3500 households and businesses can participate in energy consultations and 30,000 energy efficiency packs will be distributed to help Blacktown City residents reduce electricity bills by being more energy efficient. More than 200 households will be able to take up discounted ceiling insulation packages as part of a trial to measure energy savings from properly installed insulation.

"This comprehensive project will increase the current capacity of solar photovoltaic panels in NSW and Australia by more than one megawatt, which can generate enough electricity to meet the needs of around 200 average homes for a year. In addition the Blacktown City community will save $3 million in energy costs and greenhouse gases will be reduced by 25,000 tonnes a year.

"Solar Cities will also boost many local industries, not only through the supply of products to consumers, but through energy efficiency and smart metering trials.

"I congratulate the Blacktown community for embracing the Solar Cities concept.

"The Blacktown Solar City project joins Adelaide and Townsville as the first three Australian Solar Cities. Together these Solar Cities will install 3,000 solar photovoltaic panels on private and public housing and other buildings, conduct 6,000 energy efficiency consultations and assist more than 230,000 residents and businesses to learn how to reduce their energy use and save money. These Solar Cities will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 64,000 tonnes each year and save their communities $9 million per year in electricity bills."

With $15 million in funding under the Australian Government’s $75 million Solar Cities initiative, the Blacktown Solar City consortium is working with industry, businesses and the local community to rethink the way they produce and use energy.

Practical Benefits for the Local Community:

860 solar photovoltaic panels will be installed on private and public housing and on commercial and iconic buildings – this equates to over one megawatt of solar energy.
- Help will be available to consumers to finance their solar systems.
- More than 2,100 solar water heaters will be installed in private and public housing.
-3,500 energy efficiency consultations for households and businesses.
- 30,000 energy efficiency packs will be available for households and commercial customers, to support their energy efficient choices.
- 1,000 customers will be offered the opportunity to adopt pricing structures that allow them to save money by changing the times they use energy.
- 200 households will receive discounted ceiling insulation packages to participate in a trial to measure energy savings from properly installed insulation. - A trial will be conducted to allow customers to more efficiently manage their air conditioners and pool pumps during periods of peak electricity demand.
- 4,000 smart meters will give residential customers timely information on energy use.

The Results

- Savings of over 22 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually.
- Reduced greenhouse emissions by more than 24,000 tonnes each year.
- Annual Savings of $3 million in electricity bills for the Blacktown City community. - Valuable information and lessons learned will inform energy and greenhouse policies.