The Loch Sport Public Hall will be upgraded with a 4.4 kW solar system as part of the Latrobe Valley Community Power Hubs Gippy Bulk Buy program and community solar donation model.

The Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change officially announced the winner late last week along with representatives from the Latrobe Valley Community Power Hub, Gippsland Climate Change Network, local Government and Loch Sport Community members.

Loch Sport Public Hall Committee of Management President, Bill Klein said “I’m just really pleased that we got it. I was over the moon about it because we wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise”.

The Hall is an important site for the community, providing a valuable place for people to meet and enjoy activities such as creative workshops, ballroom dancing classes, yoga classes and music practice.  The site is also used for regular community meetings of groups such as the Lions Club and Senior Citizens Club.

The energy bills for the site are paid for by the volunteer Committee of Management and Mr Klein said, “we have had to curtail some activities up there for the simple reason that the power bills have been through the roof!’

“Because of this, it means we are going to save about $1, 400 per year which will give us a chance to put more money back into the Hall and have more local community events”, he said. ­

The Gippy Bulk Buy was one of the first Latrobe Valley Community Power Hub projects which offered quality and cost price solar PV and hot water through a bulk buy scheme for residents and businesses.

Local Gippsland installer A1 Solar and Electrical who partnered with the program from the beginning will be doing the install.

“I think that it’s great that from the success of the Gippy Bulk Buy Program the people of Loch Sport get to benefit from this solar system for years to come and that makes all the hard work that we have been doing over the past 12 months truly worthwhile”, said business owner Trent Nielsen.

“With Summer on our doorstep we hope to have the system installed as quickly as possible so the Loch Sport Public Hall can begin seeing the benefits that solar has to offer. We are currently just awaiting stock and I’m confident that our exceptional team will have the system installed well before the Christmas break”.

326kW of solar PV was installed on 42 local households and four businesses.  This will see combined savings of $128,000 per year in electricity bills for the participants and $3.2 million over the life of the solar systems.

“We love what we do and that we get to work so closely with our local community,” said Mr Nielsen.

The program was an initiative with the Wellington Shire, Latrobe City Council, Baw Baw Shire and not-for-profit Yarra Energy Foundation. A community benefit requirement was that a percentage of the total sales would be used to donate a solar PV system to a community site.

The councils and power hub assessed nominated sites on their community benefits and service reach, roof suitability, power usage and usage compatibility with solar and predicted savings, among other things.

Three sites: A boxing gym hall in Warragul, Interchange Gippsland in Morwell, and the Loch Sport Hall were all put to public vote as a chance for the community to have their say on what sites mattered to them most. Those who had purchased solar thought the Gippy Bulk Buy were sent personal invites to vote, and the opportunity was promoted on several social media sites and local newsletters.   447 votes were recorded, 223 of which were for the Loch Sport Hall.


Photo (from left to right) – A1 Solar and Electrical Greg Grant, Latrobe Valley Authority Chief Executive Karen Cain,  Latrobe City Council Cr. Alan McFarlane, Loch Sport Public Hall Committee of Management President Bill Klein, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio,  Eko Energy Sales Manager Paul Williams Wellington Shire Cr. and Chair of the Gippsland Climate Change Network Darren McCubbin, CEO Yarra Energy Foundation Dean Kline,  Wellington Shire Mayor Alan Hall, Latrobe City Council Cr. Sharon Gibson.