Solar powers up for strong community engagement

17 March 2017

The Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) in Maningrida paves the way as the first of 29 off-grid communities in the Northern Territory to receive solar power, with a strong focus on local community engagement.

Michael Thomson, Chief Executive of Power and Water is particularly pleased with the support received from the local community.

“We engaged with the local community throughout the pre and post construction process of the SETuP project with the aim to increase local ‘ownership’.

“The local Djelk Rangers did a wonderful job providing specialised local knowledge, including weed surveys and environmental advice prior to clearing,” he said.

Darwin based business Territoria Civil, with over 50 years’ experience, was awarded the tender to engineer, procure and construct the systems in the communities.

The decision to award the tender was based on the company’s proven and well established Indigenous Participation program.

Robert Wilson, General Manager of Territoria Civil said four Maningrida locals were employed to help with the installation.

“One of the local Maningrida team has remained with the company and is now working on other SETuP sites,” he said.

Power and Water worked closely with the local school Maningrida College throughout the project. On Wednesday 8 March, approximately 30 school students from across several grades visited the solar site for a guided tour.

Image: Maningrida School children visit the Solar SETuP site

A solar demonstration kit was provided to show how 2,500 solar panels with 800kW of solar will power 130 households. The kit demonstrates the environmentally friendly benefits for Maningrida community, such as saving 230,660 litres of fuel each year and reducing the reliance on diesel by 15 percent.

Afterwards, the Solar SETuP team cooked a barbeque lunch for the children.

The $55 million SETuP program is jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Northern Territory Government and managed by Power and Water Corporation.

The Solar SETuP program will integrate 10MW of solar with existing diesel power stations in 29 remote communities and is rolled out in stages called ‘tranches’.

Maningrida is the first of the ten sites within Tranche One.  The other nine sites will be completed  by mid-2017.

The program results will mean cleaner and quieter generation in remote communities, with increased capacity and flexibility for future growth.

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