After a year unlike any other, we gathered in the Osbornes Flat Hall on December 16 for our last committee meeting. As we set up a projector screen and put out the drinks and nibbles for an end-of-year quiet celebration, we planned on watching the Premiers Sustainability Awards ceremony but didn’t really believe that we would win. There were so many worthy, energetic and inspiring projects in the finalists (check them out here).
So we are over the moon to win the Community Category in the awards. And the Premiers Regional Recognition Award! It is fantastic recognition for our public Virtual Power Plant (VPP) project that launched in September 2019.
Thanks to Sustainability Victoria for the fantastic video!
The award was for leadership and excellence in sustainable initiatives with demonstrated benefits for communities. The communal benefits of a network of public buildings that generate their own power, with some of them also storing energy, must have made a compelling submission!
With the intensity of pandemic restrictions, home schooling and the chaos of border closure effects, a couple of achievements almost slipped by unnoticed. TRY’s Chairperson, cofounder and long-time renewable energy advocate, Matthew Charles-Jones, was nominated and short-listed for the Victorian section of the Australia Day Awards in the Local Hero category.
Taken by surprise (he doesn’t know who nominated him), Matt was self-effacing about the honour, claiming it as recognition for TRY and the Yackandandah community’s determined efforts to reach the 100% renewable goal. But he was very touched that someone thought he was worthy of nomination.
He didn’t win but was chuffed to have been part of it. The other nominees were of very high calibre with Dr Kirby White, founder of Gowns for Doctors, taking out the Victorian 2021 Local Hero honours on the 27 October.
Premiers Sustainability award
And we were very excited today to find out that we’ve been announced as a finalist in the Community category of the Premier’s Sustainability Awards 2020 for our public Virtual Power Plant. The VPP was finally launched last year after at least three years of diligent and dogged work with multiple community organisations, Indigo Shire and the CFA.
Yack’s VPP is a network of publicly owned buildings across the area that generate, store and share electricity – ten buildings had solar systems installed and three of them, the Yack Public Hall, Sports Park and the CFA station also had batteries installed.
The project saw the installation of 74 kW of solar across TRY’s footprint, generating an extra 104 MWh of clean energy, reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 88 tonnes CO2 per year. They provide the core for a robust, localised, low-carbon and resilient electricity supply, and we’ve got more installations on the way.
It’s an exciting project which is already saving community groups operation costs (although due to pandemic restrictions we don’t yet know how much as many buildings have been closed) and will provide extra resilience during emergencies to organisations that have batteries, such as the CFA.
We feel incredibly honoured to be included in the awards this year, especially when you look at the calibre of the other finalists. There were a record number of entries. You can check out TRY’s nomination and the other amazing finalists here.
Our heartfelt thanks go to our partners and sponsors for the VPP:
Sponsors: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Indigo Shire Council, Into Our Hands foundation, Yackandandah Folk Festival, and YCDCo.
Public buildings and hall committees: Yackandandah Health, Yackandandah Public Hall, Yackandandah Museum, Osbornes Flat Hall, Bruarong Hall, Wooragee Hall, Yackandandah Sports Park, Yackandandah CFA, Indigo Valley CFA, and the Masonic Hall.