McKinlay offers free power pod for rural residents

The power pod is expected to supply 20 kVA for the average cattle station's needs for a main house, three dongas and a coldroom.
The power pod is expected to supply 20 kVA for the average cattle station's needs for a main house, three dongas and a coldroom.

Last week’s flooding emergency in the McKinlay shire has given property owners an extended chance to be in the running for two years of free power, in exchange for testing an exciting energy project being promoted by the council.

Aimed at helping electricity users in the shire to identify the most reliable and cost effective renewable power source from the myriad being promoted, the McKinlay Shire Council is offering a hybrid pod containing solar panels, a battery, a generator, and possibly a wind turbine, for a two-year trial on one rural property in the shire.

In order to be in the running, interested people needed to complete a Rural Ergon Assessment survey online, giving them the opportunity to relay current issues and future power requirements directly to Ergon Energy, from which a report will be provided to themselves and the council.

The closing date was to be last Friday but shire CEO, Peter Fitchatt, said this had been extended to this Friday.

“We are not slowing down on this – we just had to concentrate on other things going on,” he said.

We are not slowing down on this – we just had to concentrate on other things going on

Peter Fitchat

The aim is to announce the winner of the ballot to trial the pod at the April 17 council meeting.

Worth $88,000 each, the pod has been funded with $50,000 from MITEZ and $25,000 from council.

Mr Fitchatt said the latest Queensland Productivity Commission report painted a bleak picture for the future of electricity prices in regional parts, where around 35,000 customers were on tariffs classified as transitional or obsolete.

“More than 35 per cent of them face bill increases in excess of 50 per cent when they are forced on to standard tariffs mid-2020,” he said. “This is a scary prospect and all the more reason to participate in council’s project.”

The McKinlay shire has 163 cattle stations and 2000km of SWER lines.

The power pod will be serviced by the supplier for the duration of the experiment, and the property owner will be responsible for supplying diesel.

Mr Fitchatt said council wasn’t trying to promote one thing over another, just to test possible solutions in their environment.