Solar win for social enterprise

A Kyneton not-for-profit cafe’s annual power bill will be slashed by around $5000 a year after the installation of solar panels.
The Social Foundry has installed a 20kW solar system thanks to a $20,000 grant from energy retailer Powershop and support from the More Australian Solar Homes community solar bulk-buy.
The 68-panel solar system will generate an average 75 kilowatt hours of electricity a day, cutting the social enterprise’s electricity bills by thousands of dollars annually.
The savings will support the further development of mentoring and work-skills programs offered to more than 70 young people annually in the areas of hospitality, carpentry and conservation land management.
Social Foundry co-founder Paul Dettman said they’d approached the MASH team over a year ago asking if they could help the enterprise go solar.
“They suggested we seek funding through Powershop’s ‘Your Community Energy’ program and facilitated the entire process for us,” Mr Dettman said.
“We are delighted to have such a good-sized system, not only because of the obvious financial benefits, but also because we want to support renewable energy.
“Financial sustainability is key to the growth of this not-for-profit that’s got big plans for the future.”
Mr Dettman said the savings from solar would help their projects operate on a sound financial platform.
“Once we have achieved that goal, we will be in a strong position to replicate our model in other regional communities.
“We’d like to say a big thank you to the thousands of Powershop customers who’ve made this possible.”
Through Powershop’s Your Community Energy program, Powershop customers have the option to purchase power with a premium attached to support projects like the Social Foundry. The premiums are pooled and distributed in grants for initiatives that positively impact the environment. To date, Powershop customers have collectively raised more than half a million dollars in funding.
While the financial benefits of the solar system are significant, so are the environmental benefits.
MASH manager Jo Kaptein said this system was cutting CO2 emissions by around 30 tonnes a year.
“Over the 25-year life of the system, that’s the equivalent of around 150 fewer cars on our roads. That’s something worth celebrating!” she said.
MASH would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of its key partners in the region, which include Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Mount Alexander Shire Council, Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group and Mount Alexander Sustainability Group. For more information about MASH visit mash.org.au or call 1300 466 274.

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