Katunga farmers to nearly halve energy costs

By Jamie Salter

A farming enterprise in Katunga will almost halve its energy costs with the help of a $37,425 grant.

The Bell family relies on deep bore water for irrigation to produce hay, which is sold to a local dairy farmer.

Following an assessment to determine the best ways to save on energy use, a 53 kilowatt ground-mounted solar system will be installed, providing renewable energy to the deep bore irrigation pump.

The technology is expected to reduce the farm's annual energy costs by 45 per cent, or about $12,000.

“The deep bore is our most significant energy cost because we use it for irrigating, it's got to pump the water a long way — especially in the spring and autumn,” owner Kate Bell said.

“It definitely takes off that ongoing cost, once it's paid for, our electricity costs will be significantly reduced into the future.”

The Victorian Government's Agriculture Energy Investment Plan grant will pay for half the cost of the new irrigation system, with the Bells having to invest the difference.

“I think it’s a great program to try and reduce energy costs, but also in terms of the impact on the environment, more renewable energy is definitely a good thing,” Mrs Bell said.

The Bell family also has about 1000 sheep at any given time and 50 cattle which are predominately sold to Tatura Abattoirs.

The solar pump will be installed in the next couple of months, once the contractors give the go-ahead.

The application process has taken about 18 months and Mrs Bell said she was happy she was successful.

State Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp said he was proud to be part of a government that supported farmers to remain on the land.

“We’re making sure we can best support farmers to save on their energy bills and make their businesses more efficient — it’s important that we undertake thorough energy efficiency assessments so farmers can get the best cost savings,” Mr Gepp said.