Solar project branches out to Barunga

IDEA: James Holyman, director of corporate and community at the Port Pirie Regional Council worked with Cool or Cosy to collect buying power for affordable solar systems.

IDEA: James Holyman, director of corporate and community at the Port Pirie Regional Council worked with Cool or Cosy to collect buying power for affordable solar systems.

The powerful community buying power which the Port Pirie Regional Council instigated through their Cool or Cosy solar program has drawn the attention of surrounding councils who want to provide the same services to their residents. 

Most recently the Barunga West Council have discussed the possibility of implementing a similar program throughout their district at their latest council meeting. 

Chief executive officer of the council, Andrew Cole explains that they would like to speak to James Holyman the director of corporate and community from the Port Pirie Regional Council, in addition to Glenn Morelli from Cool or Cosy to find out whether this would be feasible. 

Mr Cole sees the direct benefits it would have to the council area and hopes that the research and report they are putting together will reflect a feasible option. 

“We are thinking of Port Broughton and people out on farms, would it be a benefit looking at a program of similar nature?” Mr Cole asked. “That is the basis of council wanting to do an investigation – are the dynamics here similar? And how would it work with the program?”

Councillors from Barunga West have expressed their interest in the project but the question of whether the buying power that the Pirie population had, would be of equal value to the smaller population of Barunga West is in question. 

“Obviously the dynamics are very different here. We are a lot smaller, different age demographic, more pensioners, does that make the program structurally different. Part of the program is you essentially purchase a solar panel and battery, you pay it off over 4 years, you go on a certain electricity plan and it is looking at what does it mean for residents here and does it stack up the same for what it is in Port Pirie,” Mr Cole said. 

Mr Holyman from the Port Pirie Regional Council explains that the program has gained national attention with how attainable it is for families of all incomes and he says that this is something he created to benefit many councils, not just Port Pirie. 

“When I set out on this journey, the intention was for it to not just be a Pirie only thing.

“Half of the value was that they should take the model and if it worked out we’ll take it to other councils around the state. That was the intention. I didn’t want to own it. I wanted to do the right thing for Pirie,” he said. 

The model has gained state and national attention and most recently over 10 councils both in and out of South Australia have registered their interest. 

Upon speaking to Cool or Cosy they have confirmed that despite the smaller council size, servicing Barunga West is something they are interested in.

“We have currently completed over 50 installations and have recently ramped up our installation capacity to complete the remaining installs as soon as possible. We have some 20 councils now in discussions with us from all over the country, some as far as North Queensland,” Cool or Cosy managing director Glenn Morelli said. 

Cool or Cosy have stated that every council will be priced differently. There are many factors which can influence the cost including location, finance term and roof type.

The council will now conduct further research and present a report at the next council meeting, with them hoping for a program to be build into their next annual business plan. 

Written by Piper Denholm


Emma Hackett