Australian school pioneers renewable PPA to reduce power bills

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From pv magazine Australia.

Ascham School has become the first in New South Wales, and one of the first in Australia, to sign a corporate renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) with energy retailer Flow Power. Under the deal, the day and boarding school for girls in Edgecliff, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, will source 90% of its power from solar and wind farms for the next decade.

According to Flow Power, Ascham School will be powered by solar and wind power in real time, calculated at 30-minute intervals, allowing the school to control and optimize its use of renewable power. The real-time stats provided by data recorders at renewable projects will allow the school to understand exactly how and when it uses power and will be a teaching aid across many subjects. 

“Late last year we felt pressured by another provider into accepting significantly higher energy retail prices when our three-year agreement with them ended,” Ascham School business manager Candice Heapes said. “This, along with our growing focus on sustainability as part of our strategic plan, spurred us on to look at alternative options and sources of energy.”

Against the backdrop of a rising number of solar school initiatives, and with universities turning to solar to bring down energy costs, the Australian educational sector is blazing a trail for other big energy consumers looking to quit the grid in a post-subsidy world.

“The education sector is uniquely placed to benefit from corporate renewable PPAs, due to the longevity of its schools and of the PPAs themselves,” said Matthew van der Linden, managing director of Flow Power. “We look forward to collaborating with Ascham School throughout the duration of this agreement to deliver an energy solution that evolves to fit the school’s needs.”