Lonely Planet Writer

Australian village to switch off electricity and connect its own solar power supply

A tiny Australian village wants to disconnect from the country’s power grid and go it alone with its own renewable energy plan. The 300 residents of Tyalgum near the Queensland-New South Wales border have backed a plan to switch off the national power lines and plug into their own natural renewable energy supply.

The tiny community of Atyalgum
The tiny community of Tyalgum wants to set an example by plugging into its own renewable energy and getting rid of the national electricity grid Image by Lock The Gate Alliance / CC BY 2.0

If successful, Tyalgum will become the first community in Australia to keep the lights on 24-7 by depending 100% on their own renewable energy. Spearheading the drive is a veteran of the renewable energy industry, Andrew Price. He told the BBC that they had cheap solar power which was as green as anything else “on the market today.” He emphasised that by taking the entire population off the national grid, it showed Australians what “could and should be done.

The people of Tyalgum has a history of promoting
The people of Tyalgum has a history of promoting renewable energy and environmentally friendly projects and has already  shown their opposition to fracking in the area. Image by Lock The Gate Alliance / CC BY 2.0

Tyalgum is now at the forefront of a renewable energy revolution after being locked in a campaign to prevent fracking in the area. In a region which likes to do things its own way, there is a tradition of supporting environmentally friendly projects.

In a town hard to find on the map, the little community found itself at the end of the electricity grid. This meant it could be cut off without disrupting supplies to other towns.

solar panels.
The village is to begin with the installation of solar panels and systems within two months. Image by Marufish / CC BY-SA 2.0

However, it is dependent on tourism and electricity bills hit locals hard in the pocket. Mr Price claims the locals as a collective spend A$700,000 (£406,000) annually on electricity. More than half that amount is used to maintain the wires and poles needed to carry the power to homes and businesses.

Another project leader Kacey Clifford, says community support was vital to give the scheme a “social licence.”

The town hopes that by October, it will start the installation process for the solar systems, panels and battery storage that will be needed to run an independent power supply.

The group will use a portion of the finance saved on normal electricity bills to install systems for the other 120 or so homes in the village.