Some Options for Regeneration in Rural Communities

August 24, 2009

In recent months Country Energy has upgraded timber power poles between Warialda and Bingara to steel. This will provide greater security along this line, the main Bingara feeder.

At a meeting  in July 2009, between representatives from Gwydir Shire Council, Bingara and District Vision 20/20 and Country Energy’s General Manager Craig Murray and New England/North West Manager Matt Patterson, convened by Federal Member Tony Windsor, consideration was given to a number of other electricity options that could benefit Gwydir Shire residents.

One proposal was the prospects for a true grid system of electrical distribution so that the risk of outages is reduced, and the prospect for local energy generation is enhanced. It was noted that Bingara has just the one main feeder line, coming south from Warialda. Barraba is in a similar situation with one main feeder coming north from Manilla. The proposal was to link Barraba and Bingara thus doubling the security to both towns.

Matt Patterson pointed out that at $100,000 per kilometer for such an up-grade the 65km Bingara-Barraba link was unlikely, but he spoke of the steel power pole up-grade and also gave an undertaking for Bingara and Warialda to be considered in the roll-out of the Intelligent Network system being championed by Country Energy. This will involve the latest software to measure and assess electricity usage patterns and possibly identify problems before they happen.

The meeting also considered the proposal to aggregate the installing of passive solar panels on main buildings in our towns rather than proceeding with individual units on houses. GSC General Manager, Max Eastcott has written to Federal Minister Peter Garrett on two occasions since the Regenerative Energy Forum in July 2008, to seek support for this proposal. Mr Garrett has replied, but has not indicated support for the proposal at this time.

V2020 members Bob Charlston and Jenny Mead have visited the CSIRO’s Solar Energy research centre at Mayfield near Newcastle. In a project headed by Wes Stein, one of the guest speakers at the Energy Forum, experimentation on Solar Thermal power generation is being undertaken.

Wes had indicated that the prospects were good for the development of Solar Thermal power stations in inland NSW and commended our community for our interest. The message here is for our community to be aware, and be prepared to respond quickly and positively should such a possibility eventuate.

Bingara and District Vision 20/20 plan to hold a Forum in October or November of this year to consider “Future Options for our Mainstreet”. Recent announcements by GSC for up-grades and repairs of the shop awnings in Bingara’s Maitland Street, and the possibility of the Bingara Works Depot being relocated to the recently announced industrial area, are just two examples of how changes can lead to opportunities.

The Mainstreet Forum is not intended to make policies or even plan strategies but to gather together interested people, in an open forum, to discuss Mainstreet options, based upon our past, our current situation, and future technological, demographic, social and economic possibilities.

Submitted by Rick Hutton
President Ph: 0428 255 380