Riddells Creek Sustainability Newsletter

20 April 2008

Riddells Creek Sustainable Living and Alternative Housing Expo

Filed under: Events,Sustainability — Reilly @ 10:20 am

20th April 2008
Hosted by Riddells Creek Primary School.

The day included lectures by guest speakers, a hall filled with displays from commercial and volunteer organisations and tours around Riddells Creek visiting inspirational houses with sustainability features.



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Riddells Creek Sustainable Living Expo

Sustainable Building Design lecture

18 April 2008

Renewable Energy Training for Electricians

Filed under: Solar Panel Project,Sustainability — Lyn H. @ 11:11 pm

Renewable Energy Training

Rezeko, the Victorian distributor for Beyond Building Energy, has formed an alliance with Swinburne University’s Grid Connect Short Course for Electricians with the aim of supporting new installers entering the industry. As the 1KW grid connected system proposed by Beyond Building Energy is over 120 volts, it must be installed and supervised by qualified and accredited electricians.

Swinburne’s short course provides the training required for qualified electricians to apply for Accreditation with the Clean Energy Council as a designer and/or installer of Grid-connect Renewable energy systems. Please refer to the BCSE Accreditation requirements http://www.bcse.org.au/default.asp?id=174 for further details. This is a sixty hour course and consists of five day classes ( 40 hours ) plus five night classes ( 20 hours). The next course may begin in early July in Hawthorne. For course information please contact Robert Cook on 9214 5264 or by email: rocook@swin.edu.au

A list of accredited Victorian Training authorities can be viewed at the Clean Energy Council
(formerly the Australian Business Council of Sustainability) website – www.bcse.org.au

TAFE Statement in Renewable Energy Bendigo Regional Institute Bendigo VIC 03 5434 1555
Advanced Diploma of Renewable Energy Chisholm Institute of TAFE Berwick VIC 03 9212 4583
Cert 4 in Electrotechnology Renewable Energy Chisholm Institute of TAFE Dandenong VIC 03 9212 4585
Diploma of Electrotechnology Renewable Energy Chisholm Institute of TAFE Dandenong VIC 03 9212 4585
Diploma of Renewable Energy Chisholm Institute of TAFE Berwick VIC 03 9212 4583
Cert 4 in Electrotechnology Renewable Energy Gordon Institute of TAFE Geelong VIC 03 5225 0574
Diploma of Electrotechnology Renewable Energy Gordon Institute of TAFE Geelong VIC 03 5225 0574
Hydrogen Fuel Cells – Commissioning and Maintenance Gordon Institute of TAFE Geelong 03 5225 0574
Introduction to Hydrogen Fuel Cells (2006) Gordon Institute of TAFE Geelong VIC 03 5225 0574
Online Course Engineering & Economics of Solar PV Energy System Monash Uni Melbourne 03 9905 5957
Advanced Diploma of Renewable Energy Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE Preston VIC 03 9269 1093
Cert 4 in Electrotechnology Renewable Energy Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE Preston VIC 03 9269 1062
Cert 4 in Electrotechnology Renewable Energy Swinburne University of Technology Hawthorn 0392148504
Diploma of Electrotechnology Renewable Energy Swinburne University of Technology Hawthorn 03 9214 8504
Grid-connect short course for electricians Swinburne University of Technology Hawthorn VIC 03 9214 8504

Mike Russell at the Clean Energy Council, phone 03 99294115, can answer any questions you may have. The course costs range from $1000 fee for service to $200 with government funding. There are also on line correspondence courses at Brisbane and Ulladulla with a weekend practical component. Also the National Electrical and Communications Association’s (NECA) EcoSmart Electricians training courses are now available, contact 03 9645 5533 . Next session starts May 7 from 2pm—8pm at Chisolm TAFE in Berwick.

Solar – Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

Filed under: Solar Panel Project — Russell @ 7:25 pm

From the BBE website:

15) What are Renewable Energy Certificates?

Renewable Energy Certificates –(RECs) are an electronic form of currency initiated by the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, and overseen by the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator. All electricity retailers and wholesale buyers have a legal liability to contribute towards the generation of additional renewable energy. They meet their legal obligation by acquiring RECs. When you install a solar system, you receive RECs which you then sign over to Beyond Building Energy. We can then sell them to agents or liable parties. The price of certificates varies because sellers and purchasers directly negotiate price and payment arrangements.

This is one of the ways that we have engineered our financial structure to pass on savings directly to the householder.


From one of our members:

I did some investigation of the RECs relating to solar power through the office of the renewable energy regulator (www.orer.gov.au) regarding the value of RECs that are we sign over to Beyond Building see http://www.orer.gov.au/publications/photovoltaic.html . They work out being about 17 recs for our area (zone 4) for a 1 kw system which are worth about $36 to $40 each – total of about $680 (Calc – 1 kw x 1.185 (zone factor) x 15 (deeming period – 15 years is the most favourable) = 17.775 – round down to 17 Recs) – I spoke to a person call Matt Power who was very helpful 0262741196 of the renewable energy regulator.

There is also a site that monitors the value of RECs on the open market http://www.afma.com.au/scripts/nc.dll?AFMAV6.196862:STANDARD:394747943:pc=L6C1S2S13 and here for prices http://www.afma.com.au/scripts/nc.dll?AFMAV6.196862:STANDARD:394747943:pc=L6C1S2S132 . You will see this is about $44 to $57 per REC. This is higher because it covers the costs of mobs like beyond Energy getting together large quantities of RECs, which they then trade to power companies like Origin Energy. No one wants to by small lots of RECs. There are businesses out there who act as brokers. RECs are also created from solar hot water systems and solar hot water heat pumps. Matt Power was saying there is a fair bit of unconscionable behaviour out there were people are not aware of the value of RECs and who sign them over to their hot water our solar PV service providers without looking to closely at their value. It is only a few dollars to the consumer, but for retailers they add up. There are about 50,000 new solar hot water systems being sold a year at the moment. Interesting stuff.

16 April 2008

Sustainable Living & Alternative Housing Expo 2008

Filed under: Sustainability — Lyn H. @ 10:18 am

Sunday 20th April Open house tours $15.00: 10-12, 1-4.30 at Riddells Creek Primary School The Sustainable Home Expo is free and open all day. Come along and enjoy the displays. Listen to speakers and chat to the experts. Delicious food available. If you think the Three Little Pigs had it wrong, now is your chance to test your theory!Explore houses made from straw bales, mud bricks, shadow cladding, weatherboard, recycled timber, W.R.C and Zego blocks. This is your opportunity to find out about the wonderful ways of helping to save money and help save our world! This event is proudly sponsored by Western Water

10 April 2008

Apr 10 – General good news – Solar Panels

Filed under: Solar Panel Project — Russell @ 5:32 pm

Hi all (from Erik Zimmerman of Beyond Building – see good news number 2 in particular – if you can do this and haven’t already registered as such let us know ASAP)

This week the planets have lined up for us on the solar neighbourhoods program.  This is a good thing after some testing weeks…

Good news number 1.  The issues holding up approvals from the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (previously the Australian Greenhouse Office – AGO) have been resolved.  They will commence processing the forms from next week.  As you can imagine this has been quite a relief…

Hence the project plans issued on the web site previously remain current.

Good news number 2.  The Hepburn neighbourhood was launched last night and the web site will go live on Sunday evening.  Hepburn is one of a number of emerging ‘sponsored neighbourhoods’ where people are paying the entire $8,895 and then receiving the $8,000 back from the government post installation.  Belgrave neighbourhood (another sponsored neighbourhood) will go live on Wednesday the 16th of April.

Good news number 3. I can now formally announce that the Hampton neighbourhood will be sponsored by the Melbourne Sustainability Fund.  This means that the Fund has come up with the capital ($) to purchase the solar panels and pay for the installation.  As you can imagine the 6 solar neighbourhoods require funding of almost $2 million and that has been quite a challenge!

Good news number 4.  We will be engaging in a trial of smart meters in conjunction with Red Energy and Centurion….  There are some big advantages of these ‘next generation meters’

– You will never have again have someone entering your private space to check the meter because the ‘beam it back’ via GPS

– The smart meters are by far the best option for the future feed in tariff (because they can cover both ‘net’ and ‘gross’ options).

– You can switch your solar system on 6 weeks earlier because our own electricians will be trained to install the meters (saving the considerable delays in working with retailers and booking truck appointments with the electricity distributors (Powercor and Alinta)

– You can access your electricity production (from the solar system) via the internet

Gross meter option (AGL) = you get paid for 100% of the electricity you produce (a 1 KW system on a typical house @ the proposed 60 cent feed in tariff  = $720/year in additional income)

Net meter capability (Origin, Victoria Energy, Tru etc) = you get paid only for what you export to the grid (and this is minimal given the fridge and other appliances will use most of the electrciaity the solar system produces – under a ‘net’ scenario a 1 KW system on a typical house @ the proposed 60 cent feed in tariff = $100/year in additional income).    It is worth considering whether you would like to participate in this smart meter trial.  Let me know.

Clearly the government need to agree to a ‘gross’ system in order to take advantage of this capability and this is still very uncertain. however it has been proposed by the clean energy council.

For those of you in Ballarat please keep the evening of the 23rd of April free as we will be briefing in the above trial and providing an update to you.  Nick Lanyon from BREAZE will co-ordinate this meeeting.  We may also have good news on the Powercor fees….

So may the planets remain in this formation for the forseeable future!

Thanks everyone for your support during the delays.


9 April 2008

Solar Panels in Riddells Creek – Latest figures

Filed under: Solar Panel Project — Russell @ 12:19 pm

There are now over 200 people on the “interested” list. From the questions sent to “interested” people the latest results are:

Yes we are willing to go ahead = 102
No not willing to go ahead = 14 (many gave no reason but the most common reasons included too expensive, increased mortgage rates has hit them too hard for the moment, etc)

That’s 116 respondents, 102 households ready to go!

That is an amazing and heartening response. Thank you everyone.

Solar Panels – Smartmeters

Filed under: Solar Panel Project — Russell @ 12:09 pm

(From Erik Zimmerman) In other good news today I’m pleased to announce that we will be proceeding with a trial for smart meters. A consortium of partners including the electricity retailer Red Energy, Beyond Building and Centurion are involved. This will allow our consumers to get access to the next generation of meters (smart meters offer the best outcome for the feed in tariffs not to mention a time saving to switch on your solar system of 6 weeks! It’s also a great way of gathering data on the output of your system). More on this one shortly..

No word yet on the certification however there is plenty of activity behind the scenes to push it through.


In other news:

– We have a meeting On Thursday the 3rd of April to brief in Alinta (the grid owner in bayside Melbourne and McKinnon) and next week on April 10 Powercor (Ballarat grid). The aim will be to generate speed of implementation and make up for some lost time.

– We will be launching the Belgrave solar neighbourhood on April 16. This neighbourhood will include 2 schools and a library!

7 April 2008

Apr 2 – first solar installation (Sandringham)

Filed under: Solar Panel Project — Russell @ 9:54 pm

(from Erik Zimmerman) I waited until April 2 for this e-mail to avoid the April Fools jokes…. yes we have commenced installations and no I’m not joking!. Of course with our limitations re: certification and the PV rebate applications we can only commence installations where we do not need the $8,000 PV rebate approvals. Last week a house in Sandringham (see photo) and this coming weekend the Half Moon Bay Life Saving Club installation will commence.

First solar panel in SandringhamThis morning I spent some time with our electrical inspector and we visited each of the 7 installation sites on Sturdee Rd, Black Rock in preparation for the installations. I’ve now agreed on a fixed price for all of our pre-inspections.


2 April 2008

How do you want to see the heart of Riddells Creek developed?

Filed under: Supermarket — Jenny @ 3:59 pm

Did you know that the vacant land in Station Street, in the centre of Riddells Creek, is about to be filled with buildings, roads and car-parking? Will this liven up the centre of our town or will it kill it off?

The proposed development will include a larger supermarket, to which the current business will relocate, 17 shops/offices and 181 car-parking spaces. All vehicles will enter and leave through one entrance in Station Street opposite the Sutherlands Rd/Station St intersection. The buildings will be built out of those concrete “tilt-slab” panels that are now so ubiquitous in industrial estates and low-cost developments. Little attempt has been made to orient the buildings to achieve energy-efficiency. Shops will be sited right up against Yeaman House, and cars will be parked along the Government Rd allotment between the shops and the Lake Park next door.

We believe that Riddells Creek needs an enhanced central focus – one that draws together the Kilmore Road shops, the Mechanics Institute, shops and historic buildings in Station Street and our beautiful Lake Park. The proposed development will not achieve this. It turns its back on the lake, buries Yeaman House and will create a pedestrian nightmare in Station Street. We are unable to show you the developers plan, and it is no longer on public display. It may be possible to view it by contacting the council, and we have copies we can show you in person.

A Different Approach

We have prepared an alternative plan. It includes a pedestrian public square or ‘piazza’ with the opportunity for restaurants/cafes looking out over the lake (imagine a quiet drink on a warm evening as the sun sets over the lake!). It takes the vehicle entry point down to the other end (between the medical centre and the railway line) to minimise traffic congestion. It orients all buildings to maximise energy efficiency, that is to allow winter sun in and keep summer sun out. It plans for a future when we add other means of transport than cars (walking, riding, and public transport) which we so desperately need to do to reduce our carbon emmisions and control the obesity epidemic. We are grateful to the developer for taking time to look at this proposal, but disappointed at his stubborn rejection of all its features.

View larger (click here)


We have looked at the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme, and there is a lot of emphasis on environmental sustainability, public transport, pedestrian and cycling friendliness and linking developments to existing community facilities and natural environments, all of which we believe the developers proposal does not comply with. In addition it specifically states that “It is policy that …the development achieves better integration of lake reserve into the town centre”.

We believe that decisions that are this critical to the heart of Riddells Creek should be taken only after extensive community consultation covering all aspects of the design. We live here – the developer does not!


Are you concerned? Then here’s what you can do.

Over one hundred people have signed a petition to the council asking that more time and opportunity for comment be available, which is located on the post office counter.

Please tell your councillors that more time and consultation are needed, or write a letter to the Riddell Roundup, or contact us. Better still, do all three.

If you would like the opportunity to have meeting with the the council about this proposal, please let the councillers know but also contact us as we can try and arrange one.

John Nicholson and Jenny Grounds, 5428 7684, jgrounds@hotkey.net.au

David and Sue Laurie, 54286625

Lyn Hovey 54286940

Your Councillors:

Geoff Neil 54296785, CrGeoffNeil@bigpond.com

Henry Bleeck 54227027 CrHenryBleeck@bigpond.com

Sandra McGregor 54235127 , CrSandraMcGregor@bigpond.com

Inverter Warranty upgraded – Solar Panel Project

Filed under: Solar Panel Project — Russell @ 3:59 pm

I received confirmation this morning:

– Yes we are going with the 5 year warranty option on the Sunnyboy.
– We also expect to offer 5 years on our own inverter when they are available.

Erik Zimmerman
Beyond Building

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