Council's system is paying off

COFFS HARBOUR’S public rooftop solar power system is on track to exceed its annual energy generation target.

The solar power system installed on top of Coffs Harbour City Council-owned Rigby House is the largest public rooftop solar power project in NSW.

The 650 photovoltaic panels installed by locally-based company Solar Inverters (now SI Clean Energy) were expected to generate around 180 megawatt hours per year, but in the 10 months from August 2010 to June this year, the system produced 172 megawatt hours.

“By turning to solar power at the art gallery, library and offices in Rigby House, we had also hoped to cut approximately 75 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, but we have already broken through that target and are looking at taking around 280 tonnes of equivalent CO2 out of the atmosphere within the first year,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades.

Energy efficiency measures undertaken by the Coffs Harbour City Council and Centrelink, which also has offices in Rigby House, have seen the retro-fitting of lightfittings throughout two floors of offices and in the library and art gallery.

More energy efficient hand-dryers in bathrooms, motion sensor switches and timers have also been installed.

Around 50 megawatt hours of solar energy has been put into the electricity grid instead of being used to power the building.

However, it is hoped that a reconfiguration of the power system to be carried out in October will see most of the power generated by the solar system being used within Rigby House.

A spokeswoman for the council said the energy efficiency upgrades had already proved to be cost-effective and were expected to be paid for within two years.

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