The Federal Government’s Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP) has been a great success, with the last of a cumulative total of $106.2 million in grant funding paid to recipients in June 2016. This funding has helped 160 participants to deliver a range of energy efficiency projects across Australia, while also raising awareness about the importance of energy efficiency in the broader community.
The CEEP initiative was launched by the government in 2011 as part of a suite of measures designed to tackle climate change. The CEEP provided co-funding for the implementation of energy efficiency projects in buildings and facilities such as town halls, council chambers, libraries, museums, hubs and art centres, sporting and recreation facilities, public amenities and depots, amongst others.
Managed and administered by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the competitive merit-based funding program was targeted at projects that would benefit lower socio-economic or other disadvantaged communities, or support energy efficiency in regional and rural councils.
One such recipient of funding from the program was the Maitland City Council, located near the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales. The Maitland City Council initially engaged Energy Action in 2009 to assist with energy procurement for its many sites, and was impressed with the annual savings of $55,000 achieved.
Building on this relationship, Council contracted Energy Action to assist in developing a grant application seeking CEEP funding to implement energy efficiency projects across the region. The Council had recently launched a 10 year strategic plan (‘Maitland 2021’), part of which was to significantly reduce its carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency, but realised that third party funding would be required to implement the measures necessary to achieve these goals.
In partnership with the Council, Energy Action conducted a comprehensive energy audit of its many facilities over three months, identifying 38 individual energy efficiency initiatives that would deliver savings of $107,629 over the lifetime of the project, with the initial investment required delivering savings after four years.
The biggest single energy reduction identified was through lighting upgrades (67%), while a range of other measures across key sites such as the use of solar hot water, ‘Skycool’ roof paint, improved air conditioning and cool room replacement delivering the remaining 33%.
With the assistance of Energy Action, Maitland City Council was delighted to be awarded $646,607 under the CEEP grant project, with these funds being used to make the 38 energy efficiency projects identified a reality. This has not only assisted the Council to deliver on its long term energy efficiency and sustainability objectives, but also to lead by example encouraging others in the community to take similar action.
The CEEP grant funding initiative and this case study exemplify what can be achieved with the right public policy and incentives in place, combined with the right experience and expertise to make things happen.
There are now a multitude of grant funding facilities and financial incentives available to businesses of just about any size in Australia aimed at achieving better energy efficiency and sustainability, and at both state and federal level – there is no excuse not to act.