Solar energy helps sustain and retain community connection

Community stories eNews: 28 May 2021

On the main street of Hillston, you’ll find the Red Dust and Paddy Melons Gallery & Information Centre bustling with activity. Among the local art, craft and produce, including olive oil, honey and preserves, it’s also home to The Dusty Quilters’ group. The Centre provides a much needed community meeting point for organisations and individuals who are seeking social connection and also welcomes a steady stream of visitors.

In this small drought-impacted farming town on the banks of the Lachlan River in western NSW, The Hillston Creative Arts Council owns and operates the Centre. It has a committee of six and a band of 25 volunteers. Money is tight, so the Arts Council was looking for ways it could remain sustainable without overburdening the financially-stressed community. 

With approximately $1,800 spent on electricity each year, installing solar panels was the answer. The Arts Council received a $7,562 grant funded by the Australian Government through our Tackling Tough Times Together program to add them to the Centre. Based on projections of electricity generation, it is expected that the new solar system will pay for itself in just under four years. The system will also save approximately 6.78 tonnes of CO2 per year, setting an example to the community about the importance of sustainability measures.

In acquitting the grant, Lyn Manton, Secretary of the Creative Arts Council wrote: “We are proud of the fact that we have reduced our carbon footprint now and into the future, and that we have reduced our costs and financial burden on our members and those in the community who help support us.”