Home' The Great Southern Star : August 30th 2016 Contents “THE STAR” Tuesday, August 30, 2016 - PAGE 29
THE partnership between South
Gippsland Shire’s Sustainability Team,
Mirboo North Community Energy Hub
and Energy Innovation Co-op led to a
packed hall in Leongatha on Tuesday
evening, August 23.
Two hundred people were given more facts about
solar PV and the battery storage technology which is
creating so much interest as power prices rise and en-
ergy suppliers continue to confuse and annoy their cus-
The focus of the night was on providing sound fac-
tual information. Speakers wanted to encourage com-
munity interest, but also warn of the need to do proper
and careful research before acting.
Craig Hunter from Selectronic Australia, which is
the only Australian manufacturer of inverters, advised
on many issues and questions which potential battery
customers should consider, including understanding
their particular household requirements, how essential it
is to research products and companies rather than blind-
ly accepting over-blown claims, and obtaining written
product guarantees (including carefully checking the
John Ballis, CEO of Grid Edge and a member of the
Ranges Energy Co-op which operates from the Dande-
nong Ranges, listed the different types of batteries avail-
able, providing advantages and disadvantages of each
type, including the familiar flooded lead acid, through
improved lead acid (Gel, AGM), nickel iron, lithium
ion, flow (zinc bromide), salt water and sodium nickel
No battery is perfect for everyone’s needs or require-
ments, hence the importance of carefully weighing up
Some are more expensive, more dangerous to
handle, more environmentally damaging or less proven
technology than others. Some require more mainte-
nance, are bulkier, but may last longer and give better
quality power “draw-down”.
He advised listeners to “beware misinformation, use
a CEC accredited installer and consider the cost to the
environment before making a purchase”.
Andy McCarthy runs Gippsland Solar, a Mirboo
North and Traralgon based company which has installed
2,500 PV systems, including 30 battery systems.
He spoke of the ways his company calculates, from
the customer’s own power usage and lifestyle, whether
and what kind of system would best meet a particular
householder’s needs. He warned of the advertising
“hype” that can sometimes take over the market.
But Andy also discussed the oft-expressed notion of
waiting for prices to come down, saying that an extra
couple of years of waiting for prices to come down also
means an extra couple of years of paying high power
bills - and that the two just might cancel each other out.
Ian Southall from Mirboo North Community En-
ergy Hub, and Susan Davies from the Energy Innova-
tion Co-op, as well as others, emphasised the priority for
all households and businesses to “pick the low hanging
fruit”, ensuring the essential first step is to reduce en-
“Energy efficiency measures, sometimes very sim-
ple ones, directly reduce energy bills. They also reduce
the size and cost of any solar PV or battery system which
you might install, leading to big savings,” Susan said.
“The co-op has an open offer to come to any com-
munity group gathering to provide ideas and advice on
energy efficiency, and we have contact with qualified
energy auditors who can (for a price) do more detailed
By Tayla Kershaw
TWO weeks in Japan was an experi-
ence of a lifetime for 17 Wonthaggi
Secondary College students.
The students were recently given the op-
portunity to embrace the culture by touring the
country and learning more about the traditional
lifestyle by living with a home stay family.
Wonthaggi Secondary College has had an
ongoing relationship with Japanese sister school
Hakui High School since 2004, which has pro-
vided students with the chance to further broad-
en their language studies.
After a long flight, the students arrived in
Oosaka, where they stayed for a night before
travelling to Hakui.
Students described the home stay week as
the highlight of the trip.
“We learnt a lot about their tradition and
culture. It was a really educational experience,”
Year 11 student Sheona Bugbird said.
“We made lots of friends and got to spend
three days at their school and attend all the dif-
The students spent the remainder of the
week travelling. They explored ancient temples
in Kyoto, Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima, the It-
sukushima Shrine in Miyajima and Universal
Another exciting experience was travelling
on the bullet train, an iconic Japanese experi-
Upon returning home, the students agreed
the experience encouraged them to continue
their Japanese language studies.
“A trip like this makes you see the impor-
tance of learning a language,” Year 11 student
Caitlyn Taylor said.
“It opens the world up to you and allows you
to experience a whole different way of living.”
Sheona said the trip helped her improve her
fluency in speaking Japanese, which will help
her during Year 12 studies.
“I am able to listen to a conversation for lon-
ger and my speaking skills have gotten stronger,
so I learnt a lot in Japan,” she said.
Guest speakers and organisers: from left, Heidi Hamm of South Gippsland Shire Council,
Craig Hunter of Selectronic, Ian Southall of Mirboo North Energy Hub, John Ballis of Grid-
Edge, Andy McCarthy of Gippsland Solar and Susan Davies of Energy Innovation Co-op
after a hugely attended night in Leongatha about solar batteries.
Shire charged by solar battery night
home and business energy audits. We will also, with oth-
ers, continue to investigate renewable energy, batteries,
and to develop community owned renewable energy
projects in this region,” she said.
Heidi Hamm, South Gippsland Shire Council’s sus-
tainability officer, reported, “We were thrilled with the
night. It is fantastic to see so much interest from the
local community in sustainable energy production. The
night went off without a hitch thanks to the great coop-
eration and work from the Energy Innovation Co-oper-
ative and the Mirboo North Community Energy Hub.
The three presentations were fantastic and very relevant
to our local community.”
Responding to suggestions of the need for such
events, Ian pointed out the thirst for knowledge about
battery storage for households and business around
Gippsland was growing.
“The reason why these nights are so popular is the
incredible interest. This was our fifth event of this nature
across Gippsland, with nearly 1000 residents attending
so far. So more nights are planned,” he said.
Delicious: Wonthaggi Secondary College
student Shantelle Keogh enjoyed tasting new
foods in Japan.
Amazing scenery: from left, Wonthaggi Secondary
College students Lyla Wilson and Sheona Bugbird
were enthralled by the beautiful shrines and temples
they visited while in Japan.
New friends: students from Wonthaggi Secondary College bonded with students from Japan’s Hakui High School following their recent international trip.
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