Solar nets dividends

IF Coffs Harbour City Council could gain access to the 60c per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff available to householders and small businesses, it would look seriously at expanding its use of solar power, Jeff Green said yesterday.

Mr Green, Coffs Harbour City Council’s manager of strategy and sustainability, was showing journalists over the huge rooftop solar power system being installed on top of Rigby House for the council.

The 654-solar panel project is one of the three largest such projects in Australia and has been funded using an $815,850 grant through the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Mr Green said it was pleasing that 23-year-old local company Solar Inverters had won the tender against competition from 20 proponents.

Rigby House will be a demonstration project, providing education as well as half the electricity required to run Rigby House and will feed electricity back to other council buildings and to the grid during weekends and holidays when the building is unoccupied.

Mr Green said the council spent close to $2 million each year on electricity, with street lights alone using 1.5gigawatt hours of electricity.

He said the solar system should pay back its initial cost in about five years and would continue to provide electricity from the sun for about 20 years.

The system has been put together by Coffs Harbour family company Solar Inverters, with Lee and Peter Bulanyi and their sons, Chris and Ben, all working on the project.

Managing director Peter Bulanyi said it was a refreshing change to be working on a project 20 minutes from home, rather than having to fly in components and staff to remote sites with helicopters.

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