Alice Springs Becomes Australia's Newest Solar City
ALICE SPRINGS, Northern Territory, Australia, March 10, 2008 (ENS) - Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett today launched the $37 million Alice Springs Solar City, which will help the local community save energy, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the launch Garrett joined Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson to open the Alice Solar City Smart Living Centre.

"This fantastic one-stop shop showcases solar hot water, photovoltaic systems, energy efficient lighting and smart metering technologies - with a host of solar and energy saving offers," Garrett said.

"For example, energy-wise residents who cut their electricity use by between 10 to 20 percent will receive a 10 percent discount on their bill. If they cut their bill by even more they are rewarded with a 20 percent discount," he said.

The famous red rocks of the MacDonnell Range adjacent to Alice Springs (Photo courtesy Northern Territory Tourist Commission)

Alice Springs, famous for its red rock desert landscapes, is the only major town within over 1,000 kilometers in any direction.

The Australian Government's Solar Cities program is trying energy options to reduce greenhouse gases and protect Australia's environment. It is a partnership approach that involves all levels of government, the private sector and the local community.

The announced Solar Cities are Adelaide, Townsville, Blacktown, Alice Springs and Central Victoria. Solar Cities consortia are working with industry, businesses and their local communities to rethink the way they produce and use energy.

"This is what Solar Cities is all about," said Garrett, "helping families and businesses take action on climate change and seeing what works best so that we can roll it out to the rest of the nation. It's about building a low carbon future."

Garrett said that Alice Springs enjoys one of the highest levels of sunlight in the world and that more than half of Alice Springs households are already harnessing the sun's energy with solar hot water.

"Alice Springs is a unique example of how the Australian Government's Solar Cities program is learning more about the needs of a remote community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Garrett said.

The town of Alice Springs (Photo courtesy Northern Territory Tourist Commission)

"We'll be collecting vital data through installing solar photovoltaic panels on homes and businesses, rolling out solar hot water systems and smart meters and providing solar installations for iconic sites around Alice Springs," he said.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson said that the six year Alice Solar City project would bring many benefits to the Alice Springs community and would position the town as a leader in sustainable living.

"The project will bring many benefits to the community, businesses and residents by reducing greenhouse emissions, conserving energy and saving dollars through energy efficiency," Henderson said.

Warren Snowdon, the minister for defence, science and personnel, and MP for Lingiari, said Alice Springs is forging a new pathway in the use of energy efficient technologies and solar energy.

"As well as increased public awareness in sustainable energy use, Alice Springs will save around 10,667 kilowatt hours in electricity demand and 12,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year," Snowdon said.

The Alice Springs Consortium will receive $12.3 million under the Australian Government's Solar Cities initiative and the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program.

The consortium, consisting of the Alice Springs Town Council, Northern Territory Government, Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation, the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Tangentyere Council and the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce will contribute $7.3 million to the project. Other contributions will be sourced to bring the total project value to $37 million.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.