Batteries need a pole to fit Rates hardship
COMMUNITY batteries each able to power up to 280 homes could be installed across the peninsula as part of a $150,000 Neighbourhood Battery Initiative. It is part of a feasibility study being developed by United Energy and financed by the state government. It aligns with the views of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and community energy and greenhouse alliance groups across Victoria. Work on the study will begin this year and be completed in 2022. Determining the best locations for the onground batteries will take in factors such as the community benefits and local power demand and constraints. United Energy general manager Mark Clarke said the study would “bring together network engineers and communities to collaborate and explore the potential of installing community batteries at scale”. “By combining this work across so many different groups and different council areas we can be much more efficient and create a better understanding of how community batteries can best support our customers,” Mr Clarke said. The larger batteries would allow homeowners to export excess rooftop solar, mitigate the need for costly network upgrades and reduce greenhouse emissions, Mr Clarke said. Mornington Peninsula Shire is one of 12 councils and groups involved in United Energy’s community battery feasibility study. Electric Avenue program The study will complement the company's installation of 40 smaller batteries on power poles, nicknamed the Electric Avenue program, over the next 18 months. The 30kW batteries will each have the capacity to service up to 75 homes. They will be 3.6 metres above ground on standard poles and support 50-75 homes nearby with reliable stored energy for two hours at a time. Several sites are earmarked on the peninsula,
relief extended to next February
Pole batteries sites include large parts of the Mornington Peninsula on United Energy network. Image: Supplied
which is prone to strong demand over short durations, especially on hot days in the holidays. “Community batteries are a way of storing energy that can then be used locally when it is needed,” Mr Clarke said. “They are a great way of ensuring solar PV exports from homes are consumed locally. They also help defer traditional investment so we can save money for customers on future network tariffs.”
MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council will extend its financial hardship policy until at least 28 February 2022. The policy, moved at its 7 September meeting, will apply to all rateable properties and debtors who apply for relief. The council also agreed not to raise interest on any outstanding balances for ratepayers and debtors until that date. Officers will then report back to council which will decide whether or not to extend the relief period. Revenue business support coordinator Ros Humphrey told councillors that having regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Victorian Ombudsman’s report, the rates hardship policy had been reviewed with added information around exceptional circumstances and the waiving of rates. The council discussed options for extending the policy “considering the continuing impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic”. Ms Humphrey said that at the 26 May 2020 meeting councillors broadened the policy to include all rateable properties on application and to also not raise interest on any outstanding balances until 31 December 2020. She said with rate revenue accounting for 78 per cent of the shire’s income, any non-payment would seriously impact on the council’s cash flow and ability to provide services.
“The importance for council to continue to support the community is paramount,” she said. “To ensure services can still be provided at the level required, it is important to encourage payment of rates in some form. “Council’s preference is to not waive rates or charges on the basis it is considered inequitable for most ratepayers to subsidise the property assets of hardship applicants. “A more equitable solution for the entire community is to defer rates and charges. “However, council will consider waiving or reducing rates for certain ratepayers for their principal place of residence, where exceptional circumstances are experienced, and where severe financial impact can be demonstrated.” Ms Humphrey said the policy had been updated to include waiving rates and exceptional circumstances with additional wording around domestic violence where finances may be frozen. She said a new, “softer” debt collection format included sending SMS reminders and mildlyworded debt collection letters to “encourage ratepayers to enter into a suitable payment arrangement”. “Council has not raised any interest during the pandemic and our recommendation is that we will not raise interest until the end of February 2022.” Stephen Taylor
Housing for the Peninsula Have your say on amendment C219morn. The amendment proposes to make major changes to zones, overlays and policies in the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme.
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The amendment is required to: • Ensure the neighbourhood character of the Peninsula’s residential areas is protected and enhanced as the population grows •
Speed up the application process so more construction projects for one dwelling on a lot can continue without needing a planning permit.
Strengthening neighbourhood character requirements in the Planning Scheme will ensure future development reflects the preferred character of our residential areas.
Do you want to find out more about amendment C219morn and how it might affect your property? Drop in to one of our community information sessions online via Zoom. Find out more and have your say at: mornpen.vic.gov.au/peninsulahousing
Community consultation closes 5pm, Friday 29 October. PAGE 8
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Southern Peninsula News
15 September 2021
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Southern Peninsula News 14 September 2021