Thursday, September 8, 2011

NSW Business cashing in on energy efficiency

THE state’s small- and medium-sized businesses are reaping the benefits of government energy efficiency programs, saving a combined $70 million in power costs for about $8 million in government subsidies in the past two years, new data shows. So far, 345 dairies have participated in energy-efficiency programs in NSW and some have saved as much as 15 per cent on the cost of refrigerating milk.

In the past year, 247 butchers have saved up to 8 per cent, or roughly $1240 a year, on energy costs. And 2393 cafes and restaurants have improved their energy performance by up to 13 per cent, or $1362 a year. One winery, Tamburlaine in the Hunter Valley, was able to cut its energy use by three-quarters and save $110,000 a year.

The changes range from simple measures such as switching light bulbs to remote-controlled cooling and heating, or changing voltage and fan speeds. ”In terms of environmental benefits, it reduces costs for business, it reduces demand for electricity, it reduces carbon emissions,” said the NSW Environment Minister, Robyn Parker.

Country areas stand out for the highest number of businesses who are participating, with only North Sydney, Sydney and Marrickville making it into the top 10 regions. Most of the programs were initiated under the previous state government and some face funding pressure under the new government.

The current government opposes the federal government’s carbon pricing plan, which includes a substantial energy-efficiency component, but Ms Parker said NSW would work with its federal counterpart where necessary.

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