The installation of solar panels on the roof of Uniting Ballarat's Wendouree Op Shop will help divert money spent on power to impactful community programs.
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State government, Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions and Eureka Orienteers funded the installation of 10kW of solar PV panels on the roof of the op shop on Howitt Street.
The project will produce 40kWh per year, resulting in operational savings of around $3200 that will be used for Uniting Ballarat's programs Lifeline Ballarat, BreezeWay Meals and Meals for Change.
Uniting Ballarat executive officer Annette Kelly-Egerton said every dollar saved on operating the store would be directed to the community.
"We want to reduce our environmental footprint too," she said.
"Opportunity shops are about reducing environmental impact through recycling goods."
The state government, through its Renewable Communities Program, provided a $7,728 grant to BREAZE for the installation of the solar panels.
It is to reduce power bills so they can operate more effectively and use the money for other community programs.- Paul Duggan, BREAZE president
These funds were supplemented by a $1000 donation from the Eureka Orienteers from their 2018 aMAZEing event and just over $1,400 from BREAZE's Social Solar Program.
The program has been running for four years, using community donations to buy renewable power for disadvantaged groups and not-for-profit organisations.
Marketing program One Dollar for One Watt has raised more than $18,000 from the public and distributed almost $21,000 to assist with the installation of 35 kW of solar panels over nine properties.
Previous Social Solar projects include solar installation on Uniting social housing units in Ballarat, Ararat and Horsham, McCallum Disability Services and Ballarat Regional Industries buildings.
BREAZE president Paul Duggan said the Social Solar program was designed to empower community to save money and make environmental change.
"There are several impacts across the board; it is for the environment by removing coal power from the system, it is for adaption so local communities can still operate in the extreme weather conditions we are heading towards, and it is to reduce power bills so they can operate more effectively and use the money for other community programs," he said.
Uniting Ballarat social enterprise co-ordinator Jamie Cameron said sales at Uniting's op shops were increasing with more people responding to the up-cycling trend.
"A lot of people realise there are a lot of things going to land fill and we are finding a lot of people up-cycling," he said.
"We try to do that ourselves at the shops with different social enterprise models where old pallets are turned into furniture to sell and manchester that can't be sold is being turned into shopping bags.
"Some of the ideas the customers come up with are amazing. Old dining chairs turned into garden ornaments. All three shops have been really busy and sales keep increasing."
Eureka Orienteers will run another fundraising event for Social Solar on December 7 for the twelfth annual aMAZEing Ballarat. Teams can get together for the part treasure-hunt, part physical race and enter at https://www.eurekaorienteers.asn.au/events/.
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