NFPs Encouraged to Make the Switch to Solar
15 May 2018 at 4:58 pm
A new campaign has launched aiming to help the not-for-profit and community sector make the switch to renewable energy.
Community Buying Group and Moreland Energy Foundation officially launched The Big Solar Switch campaign on Monday.
The campaign aims to facilitate Australia’s largest switch to solar power by actively reducing barriers of solar installation for the not-for-profit and community sector.
Developed exclusively for charities and community organisations, the initiative uses the strength of aggregated purchasing to reduce the cost and barriers of installing solar PV systems.
Packages contain a “best value” guarantee which includes negotiated rates for the sector, extended warranties, expert advice and links to funding.
Alison Rowe, the CEO of Moreland Energy Foundation, said unlike individual households and businesses, the charitable sector has not had the benefit of a dedicated program to assist them in the uptake of solar.
“Moreland Energy Foundation (MEFL) has a proud history of supporting communities to benefit from solar installations. We are excited by the opportunity to support the NFP and charitable sector to navigate the process of installing solar PV,” Rowe said.
“MEFL has a wealth of experience having facilitated the installation of over 10 MW (megawatts) of solar. Being an NFP ourselves we understand the resource challenges facing the sector and strive to make the process of investigating solar simple.”
Jill Riseley, the chair of Community Buying Group, told Pro Bono News electricity prices were causing a big headache for community organisations.
“Electricity prices in Australia and particularly Victoria and New South Wales have significantly increased over the last five years and it’s creating real stress for not-for-profit organisations because it’s one of their largest operational expenses,” Riseley said.
“So we realised we needed to support the sector to be able to generate their own electricity.
“We call it energy independence, where organisations have a lot more control over their electricity and can hopefully permanently reduce the amount that they spend on electricity.”
Riseley said there were a number of reasons that solar power was chosen as the optimum form of renewable energy for the sector.
“One of the key reasons is because a lot of NFPs have a large amount of roof space,” she said.
“So when you think about the NFP sector and all the different types of entities that exist, whether they be a homelessness provider or the local lawn bowls club, the one consistency is there’s a lot of unused roof space.
“And Australians have started to embrace solar, it’s making real economic sense and so it’s an opportunity that we saw for the NFP sector to also take advantage of it.”
She added that the cost of solar has significantly decreased over the last five years, making the payoff periods a lot shorter, particularly for organisations that are using power during the day.
“Unlike for residential addresses where they use a lot of electricity at night, [NFPs] use a lot of that electricity during the day and so they’re able to directly use the power that they generate,” she said.
“So it makes even more economic sense for NFPs to install solar.”
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s (ACNC) most recent Australian Charities Report showed that average charity income increased by only 2 per cent in 2016 (while income decreased for 42 per cent of charities).
Recent research by Community Buying Group also revealed that operational expenses for charities increased by 7 per cent whilst funding increased by only 2 per cent.
Multiplied across the charity sector, this equated to an approximate $6.7 billion funding gap.
For Riseley, this research highlighted that reducing energy costs was vital for NFPs.
“The cost of electricity and the cost of operating is top of mind for NFPs and is keeping a lot of CFOs up at night,” she said.
“For charities on the coalface of addressing social and environmental issues in Australia… operational expenses is absolutely critical and that’s the feedback we have received.”
Community Buying Group is hoping for around 10,000 organisations to make the switch to solar power during the campaign.
The campaign’s roll-out will firstly focus on the housing sector, with the initial deadline for housing providers on 15 June.
This rollout for large NFPs will commence in late June.
Riseley encouraged the sector to buy-in to the campaign.
“The story we’re really trying to get out to the sector is that it’s a permanent reduction in one of their core operational expenses and it’s a real game changer for the bottom line of many NFPs,” she said.