A solar farm could be an option for Newstead, the Melbourne based energy generator and retailer, Diamond Energy, told a packed Newstead Community Centre on Sunday Feb 11.

Renewable Newstead was delighted with the interest shown as 160 people listened intently to how the project to switch the town to 100 per cent renewable energy has progressed and the options for going forward.

Those present appeared excited by the options and had many follow-up questions.

Renewable Newstead’s consultant Tosh Szatow of Energy for the People explained how a two-year trial of a special tariff that will apply to grid-connected electricity users in the 3462 postcode now made the switch economically and commercially feasible.

The tariff applies to only part of everyone’s electricity bills, the distribution cost. It’s complex because this cost is not singled out on people’s power bills but suffice to say it’s a powerful tool in Renewable Newstead’s ability to achieve the project’s goals.

Don Culvenor explained how Renewable Newstead had spoken with and checked out at least six retailers and how it came to choose Diamond Energy as our preferred partner. The company is mostly Australian-owned with a share held by US-based solar panel maker SunPower Corporation. It’s already installed key renewable energy generating projects around Australia including biogas generators at Tatura and Shepparton, a solar park at Mildura and a major solar farm on the Sunshine Coast.

Diamond Energy Managing Director Tony Sennitt then explained that his company needed vital information in order to “do its sums” and see which option or options will best suit Newstead. He said his company’s part ownership by SunPower did not commit it to using their solar panels.

The options are for the community to buy green energy from the grid, to build a solar farm and/or to install solar panels with batteries. He fielded many questions with answers which Renewable Newstead will add to this webpage soon.

It’s now up to our community to help with the next phase. The more Newstead residents complete the survey at www.diamondenergy.com.au/saver the more solid grounds Diamond Energy will have for finalising its offer to Newstead. Once it gets at least 50 per cent – and the aim is for 80 per cent – of our 3462 postcode residents to complete the survey, it will come back to Newstead with that offer. Surveys need to be completed and returned by March 23.

Without our community’s support to do this, our project will be stopped in its tracks. So please help.

Completing the survey does not commit residents to anything. Renewable Newstead will help people who don’t have computers or others who need help to complete the survey. Please call Gen Barlow on 0427 762633, or Don Culvenor on 0427 573 536 for help completing the survey.

The Newstead CFA Ladies Auxiliary prepared delicious salads and the CFA Brigade catering team cooked a barbecue lunch while people mingled and talked more about the project. There was great community spirit afoot.

Renewable Newstead is especially grateful to Ryan Ford for helping with signage, Meg Norris for helping with graphics, Carmen Bunting for her beautiful photos (Carmen specialises in portrait, wedding and family photos) local videographer Simon Beckett for his film, Janet Barker for social media support, Jovian and Janelle, Jenny & John at the Newstead Post Office for flier distribution, plus the Newstead CFA Ladies Auxiliary and Brigade. And last but by no means least, the curious community in which we live and its people for showing up and asking questions.



You can stay informed via our website; there will be more from the info day including an interview with Tony Sennitt, and the list of Questions and Answers. Subscribe to the blog or like us on Facebook. Click here to go to the Diamond Energy Survey.