Solar my School Launches in Southern Highlands

Marnee Harlor and Cecilia Kemp (Wingecarribee Shire Council), Carisa Wells (RDASI) , Jodie Savage (SmS), Camilla Staff (RDASI), Anthony Weinberg and Nicola Saltman (SmS)

Regional Development Australia Southern Inland (RDASI) has partnered with Solar my School (SmS) and Wingecarribee Shire Council to facilitate the installation of solar on schools in the Wingecarribee Shire. This multi award-winning program helps schools reduce energy bills, educate students about renewables and shrink their carbon footprint with solar power. Schools are ideal sites for solar power, as they often have large unshaded roof spaces, high daytime energy demand and long tenure.  

Solar my School was jointly founded by Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra Councils, and is now licensed to other Councils and organisations to support schools to go solar in a local area. Wingecarribee Shire is the first regional location to join the 160 schools across 13 Sydney metropolitan Council areas which are already participating.

With training, support and resources from the team at SmS, RDASI will run the program and manage all aspects of its delivery, ensuring that local suppliers are used as much as possible. The two partner organisations are hoping to work with 5 schools in the area over the next 12 months as a pilot round.

RDASI will work closely with selected local schools to assist them through the entire solar installation pathway, including providing access to comprehensive and independent feasibility studies; support in accessing funding and grants to help pay for the solar power system; as well as valuable educational resources for students and teachers alike. For schools, installing solar can see electricity savings of around $5000-to-$12000 per year. The Department of Education is supportive of the SmS program and offers potential co-funding towards the cost of the solar system for eligible public schools.

Earlier this year, Wingecarribee Shire Councillors voted to declare a Climate Emergency in the Wingecarribee Shire. Wingecarribee Shire Council has sponsored the SmS program as part of their initial response to the emergency.

Wingecarribee Shire Mayor Duncan Gair said Council was looking forward to the partnership with RDASI and Solar my School.

“This program will be our first community emissions reductions program since our declaration of a Climate Emergency,” he said.  “Reducing emissions will be a key component of our upcoming Environment and Climate Change Strategy.”

CEO of RDASI, Carisa Wells, is excited to launch the program in the region. It will be the program’s first foray outside Sydney and into regional NSW.

“For RDASI, this program is multi-faceted; it brings in educational, financial, environmental and engagement elements into the solar process. Not only does it assist schools to save money, it educates the future generation about renewable energy and its importance. There will also be a real economic impact for the community, as we will be supporting local jobs and local suppliers.

“Whilst a lot of schools may already have a small solar system, there is often room to update and expand their solar system to get even more value.”

This program is also actively supported by WinZero, a not-for-profit organisation formed to inspire and lead the Wingecarribee community to be net zero emissions by 2050.

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