Power4Farmers expo connects well with farmers
Princetown dairy farmer Chris Huffadine is “disgusted” at the big increases in his power bill in recent times.
Mr Huffadine said the power bill for his dairy had gone up from $3000 a quarter to $3500 every two months despite his installation of 100 solar panels to provide hot water for the dairy and two farm houses.
He was among the scores of farmers from the dairy industry and other agricultural enterprises at the ‘Power4Farmers’ expo at the Terang Civic Centre on Wednesday.
Mr Huffadine and his wife Brenda said they were at the expo to learn from alternative energy providers about what “corners they could cut” to help reduce their power bill.
The Huffadines said they would like to be totally self-sufficient in meeting their energy needs and hoped to learn more about wind energy at the expo.
They had plenty of wind at Princetown, they said.
Another south-west farmer at the expo, which was organised by farmer advocacy group FarmerPower, was Terang dairy farmer Luke Heffernan who said he was there because he wanted to find ways to reduce the big increases in his energy bills.
“I’m here to see what is new,” Mr Heffernan said.
FarmerPower project officer Dr Stanley said the group was pleased with the response to the expo with scores of farmers and others attending the event throughout the day.
The expo presented exhibitors from a range of new energy systems such as micro-turbines and biogas as well as financiers and energy retailers.
Dr Stanley said FarmerPower had applied for a grant to set up a two-year program that would connect farmers with the providers of new forms of energy as well as with funding sources such as government grants.
She said the funding sources included the state government’s Agriculture Energy Investment Plan and the Sustainable Melbourne Fund.
The Sustainable Melbourne Fund”s Environmental Upgrade Finance program has expanded beyond Melbourne to include some regional areas in Victoria.
James Wark from the fund said it provided long term loans, secured against the loan recipient’s property, for environmental upgrades. It entered into arrangements with local councils for the loans to be repaid through the loan recipient’s council rates.
Mr Wark said the fund was in early stage discussions with south-west councils about establishing an environmental upgrade agreement in the region.
Former federal Labor agricultural spokesman Gavan O’Connor was at the expo and commended FarmerPower for its initiative in organising the expo.