Think HBR

Hunter first supports innovative approach to energy

April Crawford (Pingala), Simon Walsh (Allambi Care) and Cr Kay Fraser (Lake Macquarie City Council)
A partnership created by local government, a not for profit leading provider of community care and a solar cooperative will see an innovative approach to energy in the Hunter.
Allambi Care in association with Lake Macquarie City Council and a member-owned solar technology company called Pingala, will work with about 200 other stakeholders from the local community, to invest in solar panels and infrastructure that will be used to power its Charlestown offices.
The project will enable Allambi to install a solar system on the roof of its Charlestown offices that will be funded by the community. Allambi will pay for the electricity it produces and the community investors will receive a dividend for their investment.
Allambi Care CEO, Simon Walsh said that the organisation was working in partnership with Lake Macquarie City Council to roll out the innovative crowd funded program.
“Allambi Care has operated in Lake Macquarie since 1981 and today operates from Fraser Parade in Charlestown. As an organisation working with community services, we are always looking for opportunities to reduce our costs, but in 2019 that’s also about treading a little more carefully within our environment,” Mr Walsh said.
“The 60 kW renewable energy system will reduce Allambi Care’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 76 tonnes a year, which is equivalent to 9.7 million smart phone recharges every year.”
“We are thrilled to be working with the team at Lake Macquarie City Council and Pingala to champion the City’s first communityfunded renewable energy project,” he said.
Allambi Care CEO Simon Walsh said the collaborative initiative is a way for the organisation to meet its commitment to reducing its energy footprint and engaging with the community.
Pingala is a member-owned cooperative that empowers communities to develop, own and operate their own energy systems and share in the economic benefits of those systems.
The solar project invites people and organisations that are connected to Allambi Care or are part of the local community to invest in the in the supply and installation of solar panels for the Charlestown site. There is opportunity for up to 250 investors to contribute a minimum of $250 up to $1,000.
The 60 kw panels will power buildings that include clinical services, the Allambi school facilities, community hall and offices.
Community members receive an annual dividend of between 5 and 8% on their initial investment by becoming members of the Pingala Co-operative.
Launching the project, Lake Macquarie City Mayor Kay Fraser said the project is innovative because it makes solar power technology more accessible to businesses who may not otherwise afford it.
“This collaboration benefits everyone involved including the broader community,” Cr Fraser said.
“Allambi Care is an important community service provider and this initiative will reduce its impact on the environment, while the profit will be returned to the local people who invest in the project, and residents will gain from the environmental and economic benefits – it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Lake Macquarie City Council Community Partnerships Manager, Andrew Bryant said that Council was excited that Allambi Care agreed to take part in this initiative.
“It is a great example of how businesses and residents can partner with Lake Macquarie City Council to contribute to local sustainability initiatives,” Andrew said.
“We hope more Lake Mac businesses and local investors participate in the initiative so more of our city is powered by renewable energy and profits are returned to the community,” he said.