Solar project to save council and ratepayers millions

Council expects to save ratepayers nearly $17 million in electricity costs over the next two decades after awarding a solar installation tender today.

As part of the renewable energy project, solar power will be installed at 21 council facilities, including the main administration building, Artspace and the MECC in the Civic Precinct.

Other sites range from the Dudley Denny and Gordon White libraries to Bluewater Lagoon, as well as various depots and water and sewerage treatment plants throughout the region.

An ordinary meeting of council today awarded the tender to Akcome Power Pty Ltd for $2.199 million, excluding GST.

Council was told small energy certificates would provide credits of $541,890 to be offset against the capital cost, meaning the actual cost of the project would be just over $1.97 million.

Installation will happen before the end of 2018, meaning savings will be realised quickly and in the 2018-19 financial year. Capital costs for the 21 sites will be paid back on average in four years.

Taking into account amounts for replacement inverters, maintenance costs and the initial capital investment, the contract is expected to save $16.89 million over the next 20 years.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the renewable energy project was exciting and represented some excellent cost savings for council.

“Council, like households, has been hard hit by rising electricity prices,’’ he said.

“This fairly modest initial outlay is an investment in the future which will provide ongoing cost savings.”

Akcome Power Pty Ltd’s tender was the lowest tender price and the company also scored well for its quality systems, including warranty period and experience.

The evaluation included reference checks of other solar projects Akcome Power has completed in Australia.

Cr Williamson said consideration was given to the price weighting available under council’s Procurement Policy for local suppliers.

“However, even taking into account this weighting, the successful tenderer’s price was still much lower than other tenders,’’ he said.

“Akcome has advised it will engage local Clean Energy Council of Australia-accredited electricians, as well as local non-accredited experienced electricians to work with them, plus local trades assistants.

“They expect to use 60 to 70 per cent Mackay-area based tradespeople to complete the installation.”

Akcome director Allen Zhu said the company was committed to supporting the local community through the project.

He said as well as the use of local trades during installation, ongoing maintenance support would be provided from the Brisbane-based head office to a skilled local team.

“We’re extremely happy to have been awarded this project and look forward to working with council.”

Council initially investigated large scale renewable energy options through an expression of interest (EOI) process, but concluded they were not financially viable at this time.

The 16 shortlisted respondents from the EOI were, however, given an opportunity to tender for the supply and installation of small scale solar at council facilities.

A total of 10 tenders were received, with four tenderers subsequently invited to conduct site visits and submit revised prices.