Benefit to council
  • Last updated:
  • 12 Feb 2019

The solar farm saves council money on its electricity bill each year. A lot of research and analysis went into informing the decision on whether to construct a solar farm. We've predicted it will deliver $22 million in savings - after all costs - over the next 30 years. It will offset our entire electricity consumption from energy generated from a renewable source.

We receive a rebate from the solar power we generate via the solar farm, which helps to offset council's own power bill - just like your solar panels do at home.

Annual savings from our solar farm

At the end of each financial year we will post the savings the solar farm makes for council here versus operating without one (business as usual).

2017/18 financial year savings

In the 2017/18 financial year, the solar farm saved council $1.714 million on its electricity bill.

Owning a solar farm versus business as usual for 2017/18 financial year
Cash flows*  Owning a solar farm  Without a solar farm (business as usual) 
Energy charges  -$1.857m  -$3.180m
Electricity network charges -$2.617m  -$2.617m 
Service and maintenance -$2.671m  -$2.671m 
Environment charges -$0.388m  -$0.536m 
AEMO and meter charges  -$0.049m  -$0.039m 
Total electricity cash flow  -$7.582m  -$9.043m 
Large scale generation certificate revenue  $1.961m   
Net wholesale electricity export revenue $1.090m   
Retail contract cash flow  -$4.531m   
Operating and financing costs  -$2.797m   
Net cash flow  -$7.328m -$9.043m 
Savings to business as usual - difference between the net cash flow figures $1.714m   

* refer to the glossary of terms for definition of the terms above

Total energy use by council each year

Our total annual electricity usage for 2017/18 was 27,621 MWh, and our street lighting is the biggest electricity consumer.

12,819 MWh    Street lighting - by far the largest energy user 
3853 MWh Holiday parks - our second biggest user of electricity, driven by our large tourist traffic
3585 MWh  Council administration buildings - Caloundra, Nambour, Maroochydore administration buildings 
2201 MWh  Community buildings - around 500 community halls and venues, like Venue 114, and our libraries 
1764 MWh  Sports grounds - such as the Sunshine Coast Stadium and Maroochydore Multi-sports complex 
1001 MWh  Aquatic centres - swimming pools across the region 
905 MWh Parks and lighting - power to light the toilets and lights at night in our region's parks, such as Cotton Tree 
751 MWh  Utilities - utilities council is responsible for such as the electric gates on the lock and weir system on Lake Parrearra 
742 MWh  Unmetered lighting - night time lights which aren't street lights, such as the safety lights at Mooloolaba Beach 

Glossary of terms

Energy charges is the charge to council for the energy its buildings and facilities use. This is paid to our energy retailer Diamond Energy. It's made up of the generation cost and retailer margin.

Electricity network charges are the costs of having electricity delivered to council's sites via the electricity grid. They are charged by Energex (Distribution Network) and Powerlink (Transmission Network) and fund the operation and maintenance of the poles and wires network.

Service and maintenance charges are the service and maintenance of the 29,342 street lights and is charged by Energex.

Environmental charges include the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (refer below). For each megawatt of electricity council uses, we must pay environmental charges.

AEMO and meter charges come from the Australian Energy Market Operator which operates the National Electricity Market. It charges electricity users for its services. Metering charges are paid to the meter service provider Metering Dynamics.

Total electricity cash flow is the the total of energy, network, service and maintenance, environmental and AEMO and meter charges. This amount is paid to the retailer who settles with the Australian Energy Market Operator any charges passed through by the generators, network and metering providers.

Net Large Generation Certificate Revenue results from producing renewable energy under the Renewable Energy Target (refer below) less trading costs.

Net wholesale electricity export revenue is derived from selling excess generation from the solar farm into the National Electricity Market - council does this via Diamond Energy.

Retail contract cash flow is a sub-total of total electricity cash flow, net large generation certificate revenue and net wholesale electricity export review.

Operating and financing costs include payments on the solar farm operation and maintenance contractor to Downer Utilities, and principal and interest repayments of loans to Queensland Treasury Corporation.

Solar Farm net cash flow is the total of retail contract cash flow and operating and financing costs.

Savings to business as usual - total electricity cash flow of $1.714m is the difference between $9.043m business as usual electricity cash flow and $7.328m Solar Farm net cash flow.