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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Townsville Solar City celebrates its success

Media release
PG/345
29 September 2009

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With over 1000 Smart Meters and a range of energy-saving lighting and appliances installed throughout Magnetic Island, northern Queensland’s Townsville Solar City has a lot to celebrate.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett today joined project leaders Ergon Energy, council representatives and other guests to mark the first year of the $32 million joint initiative.

Townsville is one of seven cities in the Australian Government’s $94 million Solar Cities program. It is delivered by a consortium led by Ergon, with Townsville City Council, Honeycomb Property Group, Delfin Lend Lease and Cafalo Pty Ltd.

The one-year anniversary of operation also coincides with Solar 09, the annual conference of Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society, which is being hosted by Townsville this week.

Mr Garrett said he was excited to return to Townsville to see the Solar City’s achievements, having launched the innovative project in September last year.

“When I was here in 2008 I know the community was looking forward to putting energy-saving ideas into practice, reducing their electricity bills and helping the environment,” Mr Garrett said.

“Anticipation has been turned into reality, with so many achievements in the first year alone – 1445 Smart Meters and around 70 photovoltaic systems generating 160 kilowatts of electricity are in place, while hundreds of residents and businesses have received free energy assessments.

“Electricity consumption on Magnetic Island – which was rising before the Solar City project began -is three per cent lower than it was a year ago, or nine per cent lower than where it would have been without the project.

“Later today the Townsville Solar City team will also be turning the first sod of a 100 kilowatt Solar Farm, currently in the design and approvals stage. The farm’s output will be equivalent to the power produced by about 20 homes, saving 177 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

“It’s fantastic to see local communities, businesses and all levels of government working in partnership to come up with smart solutions to our climate challenge.”

One of the aims of the Solar Cities program is to gather information and energy use data about barriers to solar and energy efficient technology uptake. Mr Garrett said it was encouraging to see Ergon was already applying the lessons learnt from Townsville to other programs.

“The lessons learned are being used in two Ergon programs: the Energy Savers project, which focuses on measures for Mount Isa and Northern Mackay residents, and the Isolated Communities Energy Savings Pilot for remote communities in Cape York, Thursday Island and Horn Island.

“Everyone involved in Townsville Solar City should be congratulated on their hard work, enthusiasm and ongoing commitment to a cleaner, healthier, low-carbon climate.”

The Solar Cities program was developed by the Australian Government to bring industry, business, governments and communities together to rethink the way they produce, use and save energy. Our seven Solar Cities are located in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Blacktown, Central Victoria, Moreland, Perth and Townsville. Visit www.environment.gov.au/settlements/solarcities/index.html

Commonwealth of Australia