Vinnies Victoria makes the renewable energy switch
29 June 2021 at 8:10 am
“We’re trying to lead by example and say, if Vinnies can do it…basically, anyone should be able to do this.”
Vinnies Victoria is installing solar panels on its op-shops across the state, in a move that will reduce the charity’s carbon footprint and save over $1 million on power bills.
Launching the first set of panels on Friday, the charity has signed onto a 10-year contract with energy company AGL to complete 91 solar installations, generating the same amount of power as 415 average homes annually.
The scheme will save $1.26 million on power bills, funds that Vinnies Victoria CEO Sue Cattermole said would be diverted into the hands of Victorians in need.
“Last year, we assisted more than 282,625 people with things that we all consider to be necessities – rent, utility bills, food,” Cattermole said.
“This year we anticipate the demand to rise. Every cent that Vinnies Victoria saves will be directed to helping vulnerable Victorians.”
The project is part of maintaining the charity’s Climate Active certification, awarded to businesses and organisations that have reached a state of carbon neutrality.
Vinnies Victoria is the first welfare organisation of its size to achieve carbon neutral accreditation under the Climate Active scheme.
Paving the way for a solar future
Vinnies Victoria policy and research manager Gavin Dufty told Pro Bono News that the organisation had been approached by a number of charities also interested in making the renewable switch.
“People have been really interested in our journey and how we got here,” Dufty said.
“We’re trying to lead by example and say, if Vinnies can do it… basically, anyone should be able to do this.”
He said that because this kind of initiative wasn’t the charity’s “core business”, they sought pro bono support from Deloitte and Belong to help them through the process.
Once the solar panels have all been fired up, Dufty said the charity was looking towards how else they could reduce their footprint.
“After we’ve done this, we’re looking to tackle our transport fleet and go hybrid electric,” he said.
“And ultimately, in the long term, setting up an electric grid that we can run off is where we want to head.”