Microgrid in the mix

19 Sep 2018 Shepparton News, Shepparton VIC (General News) by Thomas Moir SOME GROUPS SAY PROPOSAL COULD RELIEVE PRESSURE ON ENERGY DEMANDS A proposal for a power microgrid has created debate among environmentalists in Tatura. Some suggest it could help relieve pressure on the towns energy demands, while others suggest it may only serve as part of a mix in ensuring reliability and reducing prices. The proposal comes on the back of a bid hatched by a Euroa environment group which was given the green light earlier this month to develop a $6 million energy microgrid in a partnership between businesses. The bid has been strengthened by more than $600 000 of Victorian Government funding. Two Goulburn Valley environmentalists are now open to a similar proposal being deployed for Tatura, given the towns make-up of industry and residential energy consumers. Transition Taturas Ross Musolino believed a microgrid would definitely be suitable for the town, given the power that weve got coming in, were sort of at the limit. He suggested a shortage could be forthcoming if additional large energy-consuming businesses were to open in the town. Any alternative power source would be very suitable for the town, he said. Even residential areas (in Tatura) would work really well with stuff like that. Goulburn Valley Environment Group president John Pettigrew said Tatura had been identified some time ago in a study as an area that was coming under pressure from power shortages. He believed it was feasible for local companies to be joined together in a grid like that. I saw Tatura as a wonderful example of what could be done, Mr Pettigrew said. (Microgrid technology) opens up more avenues for cost sharing . . . the more flexibility youve got in cross-sharing with users, the more opportunity there is for everyone to save. Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the government was letting communities lead pushes for microgrid infrastructure, with government ideally supporting it once ready to be funded. She hoped the Euroa project would offer a testing ground, help indicate whether it could be suitable for other communities and build something of a template to work off. It wont take long to realise how beneficial they are for country communities, she said. But Ms Symes conceded more than just a microgrid was likely necessary for Taturas energy mix, flagging a variety of other initiatives that would work in that community. An energy study on Tatura in 2015 suggested the towns energy transmission and distribution lines were, or would be, facing capacity within the following five years. Limiting expansion of the towns industries, the study also said expansion plans of three of the major organisations participating in the study were, or would be, limited by current power capacity to the area. It flagged that Tatura could experience an up to 35 MW shortfall in energy across the five years to 2020. Meanwhile, the Euroa microgrid aims to see participating businesses become producers and distributors of power via solar panels and batteries. Microgrid projects are part of our plan to drive down energy prices, reduce emissions and create a pipeline of investment in renewable energy, and northeast Victorian communities should be congratulated for driving these projects, Ms Symes said. A government statement described a microgrid as a small network of electricity users with a local supply of power that could function independently of the electricity grid, delivering potential cost savings for those in the network. It generally operates while connected to the grid, but can break off and operate on its own using local energy generation in times of demand.