Power through education: New alliance aims for green and cheap
In the face of rising energy bills, Western Sydney University has helped form a new alliance to help drive down costs by developing community investment schemes and providing access to innovative technological solutions such as flexible solar panels.
The Greater Western Sydney Energy Alliance brings together government, industry and university experts to provide solutions for residents and businesses looking to reduce electricity bills and explore renewable options.
Partners in the initiative include the City of Parramatta Council, Parramatta Business Chamber, Energy Lab, Parramatta Climate Action Network, and the Solar Council.
In its first public event, Power through Education, businesses and residents met with experts to explore alternative options, such as those used by Bakers Maison in their successful community energy project that generated an oversupply of local investors.
The University’s Manager of Sustainability Jen Dollin says this was the first of many community initiatives to help generate positive change in the energy market.
“The cost of power is bad news for businesses and residents, but the good news is there are plenty of options, including innovative solutions such as solar power and lighting packages developed to spec,” says Mrs Dollin.
“This event allowed everyone, from renters to home-owners to businesses, to ask questions of industry providers and regulators and get answers tailored to their situation.”
David Hill, President of the Parramatta Business Chamber, encourages local businesses to explore their options.
“The Parramatta Chamber welcomes any assistance to our community and especially our businesses in becoming more sustainable, and particularly applauds practical advice for what businesses can do on an ongoing basis,” he says.
As part of the new initiative, the Alliance will give Western Sydney University students valuable work integrated learning experiences, while providing community partners a valuable resource.
This spring, media students will intern with several alliance partners to develop social media and communication strategies to support the promotion of solar energy uptake in the local community and develop education resource material.
Amanda McKenzie, CEO of The Climate Council, endorses this grassroots approach.
“Determined local communities and councils are leading the way in tackling climate change in Australia,” she says.
“There is a huge deal that can be done at the local level and it is great to see the community in Greater Western Sydney joining forces to become greener, more resilient and more efficient.”
Partners of the Alliance include City of Parramatta Council, Parramatta Business Chamber, Energy Lab, Parramatta Climate Action Network, Solar Citizens, Solar Council, Pingala, Western Sydney University, (particularly the UN RCE, Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development) and interested citizens.
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