Author Archives: Caro Morris

The NSW Home Solar Battery Guide

At the BEAM Annual General Meeting on September 16th, guest speaker Gavin Ashley commented that the NSW state government was a national leader in promoting Community Owned Renewable Energy. The launch of the NSW Home Solar Battery Guide is very timely.

The guide is applicable beyond NSW of course, and it aims to help householders make informed decisions when considering buying and owning a battery system. The full guide can be downloaded as a pdf, or you can access various relevant chapters using the following links:

  • Your home solar battery guide – energy system insights; key messages in the guide; common motivations for buying batteries; how to use this guide.
  • Understanding your energy use – how to access energy information; making sense of energy tariffs; easy alternatives to batteries; making more use of existing solar.
  • Your home power station – how a home power station works; battery basics; battery chemistries; environmental benefits and impacts of home solar batteries.
  • Designing a home power station – three main options for adding battery storage; battery sizing; backup power; future proofing.
  • Will a battery save me money? – calculating the ‘payback period’ for a battery; typical payback periods in 2017; the bottom line on investing in a battery.
  • Buying a solar battery – what to expect from a quote; choosing an installer; assess your purchasing options; grid connection.
  • Owning a battery – manage and operate your battery; monitoring and maintenance; safety; consumer rights and protections.
  • Additional information – frequently asked questions; glossary of battery-related terms; links to more information; assumptions for our calculations.

Five fact sheets are also available, giving a quick overview of key topics:

 

Save the date! BEAM AGM dinner: Saturday September 16th

BEAM AGM Dinner: Saturday September 16th

This year’s AGM will be held at the Anglican Parish Hall in Seymour and will feature a guest speaker from the Moreland Energy Foundation on community-owned renewable energy projects. More details to come, but in the meantime you can check out this article from RenewEconomy on the importance of community energy projects.

Please consider joining the BEAM committee: a message from our President, Richard Telford

I recognise that there are few other independent groups in our region that have a voice, and stand up for issues that affect our environment. We, as a group, fill a vital role for our wider community. We are facing a very interesting time in our region as we transition to renewables, especially up here in Seymour, with the pumped hydro, wind farm and community solar on the cards. Once we get this community solar model up and running at the Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre, we will have a model that can be replicated around the shire.

I know that everybody is very busy. It comes part and parcel with caring for the world outside of our own households. It’s not easy to find the time to prioritise things that do not immediately affect us, but, we do not live in a bubble. Eventually these bigger picture issues will affect us. What gives me strength is knowing that our small group has such a BIG say in our region. People listen to us because of what we do and what we stand for. We can achieve so much more as a group than we can as individuals, mostly by chipping in just a couple of hours here and there.

We are building fertile soil, and it’s an exciting road ahead. Your energy can make BEAM stronger. Are you in?

The BEAM committee meets every 1-2 months. Meetings are a social, community building event with a shared dinner. We recognise that everyone has skills and knowledge to offer BEAM, and we encourage anyone who might be interested in joining the committee to send us an email to beam.inc@hotmail.com. 

Plastic bags, plastic packaging and microbead controls- when will our governments provide the leadership the community is crying for?

Plastic waste is a big issue in our community, and perhaps moreso in our oceans for many years… too many years. There is a reluctance for Governments both Federal and State to do their homework and set some tough boundaries on packaging and microbeads with any urgency.

The ABC program War on Waste has generated a flurry of activity in the community around reducing and recycling single use plastic. It seems the community, and now businesses are ahead of the Victorian government, with the big 2 supermarkets Coles and Woolworths announcing last week that they will phase out single use plastic bags over the next 12 months.

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#WaronWaste inspires local community

The recent ABC 3-part program War on Waste has generated a lot of conversations and interest both locally and across the nation about living more sustainably to reduce waste.

Reducing the amount of soft plastic heading to landfill was one of the key messages of the program. While we can cut back on our consumption of plastic bags and packaging by growing our own food and cooking from scratch, bringing our own re-usable shopping and produce bags, and buying in bulk from the BEAM Bulk Food Scheme, we can also make sure that any soft plastics we do collect are recycled through effective programs like Victorian-based REDcycle.

Currently, there are no official REDcycle soft plastic recycling bin in the Mitchell Shire. And due to the huge response to the War on Waste program, the bins are now in high demand, with a limited number able to be distributed. But thanks to the advocacy of Kilmore local Carol, we will soon be getting a REDcycle bin at the Kilmore Coles. Carol says she was “in the right place at the right time”, and spoke to the local store Manager not long after the program aired and some discussions popped up on the local community facebook page. Carol’s passion and enthusiasm convinced the local Manager to push the issue further and earlier this week she confirmed that the bin would arrive in Kilmore in about 3 months time.

In the meantime, Kilmore Coles staff are happy to commence collecting soft plastics to store out the back and be sent to REDcycle. So head to the REDcycle website for more information on what soft plastics you can include in your collection.

With Plastic Free July coming up very soon, we encourage you to keep sharing your ideas about what we can do locally and in our own homes to the BEAM Sustainability Network facebook page.

If you happened to miss this fantastic program head to the War on Waste website where you can watch all 3 episodes and access a host of great information about the waste problem in Australia and what we can do to address it.

 

 

Victorian Greenhouse Alliances 2017 Conference report

David Atkinson recently attended the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances conference on behalf of Mitchell Shire Council. Greenhouse Alliances are partnerships of local governments and other organisations responding to climate change through implementing projects. Covering 70 councils and most of Victoria, the ten Greenhouse Alliances work with their members, community and partners in mitigation, adaptation and sequestration activity. His report follows:

The plenary on what can Australia can learn from Germany’s energy transition featured key speaker [Dr Anne Kallies, RMIT] from Germany who spoke about energy transition and bringing back utilities to local government. In the post-war period, Germany had a mix of private and public utilities. By the end of 2012, 190 communities ran their own power grid, and 70 Municipal utilities had been founded. She called it “Re-municipalisation” – i.e. local government [LG] taking back responsibility for local services – especially the operation of local distribution grids. She likened it to “empowering the public”. Could Mitchell Shire [MSC] run their own electricity grid???

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The Tallarook Arboretum needs our help!

BEAM members have enjoyed many get togethers at the beautiful Tallarook Arboretum. Now it’s time for us to give back to this special place.

Hello friends and fellow BEAM members, I’m writing a plea for help from the Dabyminga Catchment Cooperative (DCC, which incorporates Tallarook and Reedy Creek landcare groups). We have been responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the Tallarook arboretum for the past 10 or so years. We have quarterly working bees with an average of 6-8 participants, but now we are asking for BEAM’s help.

The arboretum was flooded in spring, washing away most of our lovingly applied mulch. Now, weeds abound and the whole place is looking a bit worse for wear. Our faithful band of workers need some assistance, so if any BEAM members can help, we will be eternally grateful.

When?     Sunday March 26th, 10am – 12 noon

Where?    The Tallarook Arboretum, opposite the Mechanics Institute Hall

What to bring?  Wheelbarrows, garden forks and rakes for mulch spreading, handsaws, secateurs, muscles and something to share for lunch.

Please wear gloves and suitable shoes for outdoor work

Mark South- DCC