Solar panels offer bright future for council power costs
SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council could be bringing solar to two of the Rose City's public buildings.
The installation of solar panels at the Warwick Art Gallery and WIRAC is one of two infrastructure projects that the council will put forward for funding under the Federal Government's Building Better Regions program.
The total cost is estimated at $325,000 but the council reported an estimated saving of $51,750 in electricity costs in the first year alone.
Mayor Tracy Dobie said ensuring sustainability was a key goal for the council.
"The important thing about these grants is getting the best value from the funding," Cr Dobie said.
"Though the panels will be on top of the art gallery, they will actually power the entire block of council buildings.
"So one set of panels will provide power to the gallery itself, the administration building, Town Hall and library.
"Any big building is a massive user of power and the more we can offset our overheads, the better."
Cr Dobie said the council did not have the funds in the 2016/17 budget to match a Federal Government contribution for the solar project.
If approved, infrastructure projects need to start within 12 weeks of receiving the funding.
The council is due to make the submission for funding for the solar project, along with the proposed expansion at John Dee (p5), by February 28.
Council officers will submit for two community projects to be funded under the same program.
The proposed projects that meet the criteria are a new regional tourism and events strategy, and a new food and wine event that would rotate between Warwick, Stanthorpe and Killarney.
The council has not yet allocated funds for these projects, however it may not be required to provide a contribution if the total project cost is less than $20,000.
Tourism staff are currently finalising plans and costings for these projects due by March 31.
Cr Dobie said securing funding was vital to ensuring the longevity of Southern Downs communities.
"Council gets about 50% of its income from general rates," she said.
"The rest is filled largely by state and federal funding, so we appreciate the support of the community in getting the grants for these projects."