Coast to spearhead new energy conservation initiative
  • Wednesday 17 March 2010

Residents and businesses in Mooloolaba, Sippy Downs and Mountain Creek are set to become members of Queensland’s first ‘Energy Conservation Community’ as part of a new sustainability initiative unveiled today.

ENERGEX Chief Executive Officer Terry Effeney joined Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot to announce that the Coast had been selected to be the first region in the state to participate in the energy conservation and demand management initiative.

Cr Abbot said energy conservation communities, supported by council, ENERGEX and the Queensland Government’s Office of Clean Energy, was designed to reduce peak demand for electricity and underpinned council’s vision for the Sunshine Coast to become Australia’s most sustainable region.

“Our residents have demonstrated their dedication to sustainability time and time again,” Cr Abbot said.

“The response to council’s LivingSmart and EcoBiz programs has been outstanding, we had South East Queensland’s best results during Earth Hour, and the Sunshine Coast has the highest saturation of solar PV electricity in the region.

“Electricity conservation is everyone’s responsibility and our participation in the energy conservation communities initiative will be yet another chance for the Sunshine Coast to lead the way with a major sustainability project that will have substantial benefits to our community.

“For the area to be a true ‘energy conservation community’ we need maximum participation from residents and businesses, so I encourage everyone to consider becoming involved.”

Stage one will initially focus on households within Mooloolaba, Sippy Downs and Mountain Creek. Residents are encouraged to visit the Energy Conservation Communities website to register their interest in being part of the initiative. The qualifying residents will then receive a phone call from an officer to complete their registration and organise a time when the engineer can install the free energy conservation devices to their air-conditioning units and pool filtration systems.

The energy conservation devices aim to reduce the amount of energy used during peak times.

Terry Effeney said energy conservation communities was one of a range of projects being backed by the state government as part of the Climate Q: Toward a Greener Queensland agenda to help address sky-rocketing peak electricity demand across Queensland—usually between 4pm and 8pm on hot summer days.

“Population growth and the rapid uptake of energy-intensive appliances such as air-conditioners and other household appliances over the past decade have boosted peak demand in South East Queensland by an average of five to seven per cent a year - well above national trends,” Mr Effeney said.

“Over the past 10 years there has been a major spiralling in air-conditioning use. In 1999 just 23 per cent of South East Queensland homes had air-conditioning, but the latest data shows that 72 per cent have at least one system and 30 per cent of homes have two or more.

“Research by ENERGEX has shown there are almost 80,000 homes with four or more air-conditioners and there are now more than one million systems installed in South East Queensland with around 1500 air-conditioners more being installed every week.

“ENERGEX needs to spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to build and maintain electricity network infrastructure to cope with this increasing peak demand, but this is not sustainable financially, socially or environmentally in the long run.

“The cost of providing the infrastructure to cope with peak demand is shared across all electricity customers through their power bills so it will be in everyone’s benefit to keep this rising demand under control.”

The energy conservation communities initiative follows a successful ENERGEX trial of electricity widgets conducted in Brisbane’s northern suburbs over the past three years. The Cool Change – Energy Smart Suburbs trial showed electricity reductions of up to 20 per cent.

More details of the energy conservation communities program will be delivered to residents in the targeted suburbs in the next few weeks.

A second stage of the program, likely to roll out later in the year, will focus on the Sunshine Coast tourism industry and commercial and industrial businesses.