26 May 2024

Kiama Downs switches on South Coast’s biggest community battery to help cut power costs

| Kellie O'Brien
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Kiama Downs community battery

At the unveiling of the Kiama Downs community battery are (l-r): David Campbell from Endeavour Energy, Kiama councillor Kathy Rice, artist Aunty Jodie Stewart, Kiama Mayor Neil Reilly, Colin Crisafulli and Russell Cadden, both of Endeavour Energy. Photo: Kellie O’Brien.

The South Coast’s biggest community battery has been switched on at Kiama Downs, with its output equivalent to 1100 blows of the famous Kiama Blowhole.

Located at Gainsborough Chase Reserve, it is NSW’s equal-biggest community battery and the biggest for Endeavour Energy, powering 100 homes.

Unveiled in partnership with Kiama Council, Endeavour Energy is encouraging Kiama Downs and Minnamurra residents to register in a bid to save on their household electricity costs.

Endeavour Energy future grid and asset management general manager Colin Crisafulli said it came more than a month after it switched on a community battery at Shell Cove for 40 homes, with sign ups already nearing capacity.

He said it was one of 18 to be rolled out for the South Coast in the next 12 months, as Endeavour Energy continues to connect more renewables to the grid.

“Shell Cove was a smaller battery than this one – this one is good for about 100 customers to sign up – so it will be interesting to see how quick of an uptake we get,” he said.

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“The big part for us is you don’t have to have solar, or a battery or own your home – it really tries to put the energy transition into everyone’s hands.”

He said the new community battery offered 445 kWh of storage capacity – which compared to each blow of the Kiama Blowhole being 0.4kWh -and would enable Kiama Downs residents to store and share solar.

“Community batteries will also help lower costs for customers across our entire region by improving the efficiency of the network,” he said.

“Customers with household solar are expected to see energy costs reductions of up to $270 per year, while customers without solar will see reduced energy costs of up to $180 per year.”

Colin said the Kiama Downs location was chosen based on looking at how they could host more solar and improve the electricity service, in conjunction with liaising with community and council on what worked best for the community.

It features artwork from Wulbunja woman Jodie Stewart, which captures the geography of the region through colours that represent the Wodi Wodi people of Dharawal Nation.

Aunty Jodie Stewart community battery artwork

Aunty Jodie Stewart speaking about the artwork on the community battery. Photo: Kellie O’Brien.

“It’s called On Country – Where the Mountains Meet the Sea and has four symbols for the four LGAs – Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and the Shoalhaven,” Jodie said.

“The major circle in the middle is the meeting place… where they all come together.”

She said the artwork featured the Birri Birri (whale) totem representing Kiama, Shellharbour and Wollongong and the Black Cockatoo being the totem for the Shoalhaven.

Kiama Council Mayor Neil Reilly said he was excited to see the battery in operation and ready to serve the community in Kiama Downs and Minnamurra, and hoped it was the first of many.

“Our community expects their council to strive for zero emissions, as per our Emissions Reduction Strategy, and facilitating a community battery is in line with our goals and targets,” he said.

Community batteries operate by storing surplus solar energy from participating customers, ensuring it’s readily available when needed – such as at night.

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Customers effectively rent a portion of the battery’s capacity to access neighbourhood-generated solar power.

Participating customers receive a rebate on the energy they store and consume from the battery.

Retail partner Origin Energy will work with Endeavour Energy to provide the platform for customers to participate in the battery trial.

Origin’s executive general manager – future energy and technology Tony Lucas said through the community battery trials, communities were getting to share in the benefits that battery storage provided without the upfront cost of purchasing their own battery.

“We encourage households in the area to engage with this initiative, which will help them harness more renewable energy and save money,” Tony said.

Residents living within the Kiama Downs trial area are invited to register their interest via the website or by phoning Endeavour Energy on 133 003.

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