Healesville, Victoria

A 108kWh battery has been installed at Healesville Community Link as part of the Active Energy Precincts Project – a collaboration between Yarra Ranges Council, Monash University and Birdwood Energy.

The project was funded by the Federal Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund.

The project aims to explore how a microgrid – a small-scale electricity system operating independently of the main power grid – can best meet the needs of communities in Healesville and Yarra Junction.

Yarra Ranges Council’s Energy Resilient Communities Officer, Amy Gregorovich, said through consultation, community interest in the project had been optimistic.

“During consultation in 2021 and 2022, energy resilience was a key priority for the majority of residents with 53 per cent of respondents reporting that power outages had major impacts on their daily lives,” Ms Gregorovich said.

“Community workshops in late 2022 in Healesville and Yarra Junction showed similar results, with attendees expressing an interest in seeing community facilities act as relief hubs following emergency events. There was also interest in understanding how community members could have a role in owning and governing a future microgrid.”

Yarra Ranges Council Ryrie Ward Councillor, Fiona Mcallister, said the installation of the battery will help strengthen community resilience and reduce the impact of future natural disasters.

“Nearly two years has passed since the 2021 June storm that damaged properties and caused mass power outages, and we are continuing to deliver the support that the community needs to keep moving forward in recovery,” Cr Mcallister said. 

“But with the frequency and intensity of storms and bushfires, it’s vital that we look at developing energy resilience solutions to protect our communities during extreme weather events.

“These microgrids will do the kind of things that really help communities keep together during power outages and natural disasters. It’s a beacon of light, both figuratively and literally, in times of need.”

Monash University Project Lead, Priya Galketiya, welcomed the support of Yarra Ranges Council.

“Councils play a critical role in providing the link to the community, enabling the project to have the best opportunity to meet community needs,” Mr Galketiya said.

“A microgrid can realise greater value for users by pooling assets such as their solar generation for efficiencies when compared to individuals buying their own batteries for storing any excess electricity they produce.”

The feasibility reports are due to be publicly available at the end of May 2023, summarising findings and recommendations for next steps.

A feasibility study for a microgrid centred at the Yarra Junction Recreation Reserve is also being conducted, with both the Bowls Club and Yarra Centre having pre-existing battery and solar arrays.

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