A crane lowering the first solar panels into place on the Rigby House roof.
A crane lowering the first solar panels into place on the Rigby House roof. Leigh Jensen

Rigby House gets solar power

HERE comes the sun to power Coffs Harbour’s library and art gallery.

On Saturday, a tall crane went to work lifting solar panels into place on the roof of Rigby House, which is owned by Coffs Harbour City Council and houses the city library and art gallery as well as the staff of council’s economic development and sports units and a Centrelink office.

Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades said Rigby House would be the first solar-powered public building in Coffs Harbour.

Council general manager Stephen Sawtell said council predicted that fitting the solar panels would save about $30,000 a year in direct electricity costs for the building, as well as generating an income of about $6500 a year in Renewable Energy Certificates. “The solar grid feed system being installed on the roof of Rigby House will generate about half of the power needed to run the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, lighting, office equipment and lifts,” Mr Sawtell said.

“The photovoltaic system will not produce any noise, toxic gas emissions or greenhouse gases.

“It will generate approximately 200 megawatt hours per annum, a saving of 200 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The project is being funded by an $815,850 grant from the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water’s Climate Change Fund Public Facilities Program.

The Rigby House system will also be used to raise awareness of solar energy across the community.

The building will be the focus of an educational program aimed at schools and the community sector, with workshops, forums and educational material.

A display relating to the solar energy system installed on the roof will be placed in the Rigby House foyer.

Coffs Harbour was also the first council to install energy-efficient street lighting across the local government area.

It also now sources much of its electricity needs from renewable, non-fossil fuel sources and has recently moved to smaller, fuel-efficient fleet vehicles as well as energy efficient lighting, design and power use in many of its facilities.

The current Coffs Harbour City Council includes two Greens councillors and Cr Rodney Degens in particular has been active in lobbying for the council to introduce and expand its energy efficiency and sustainable living practices.



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