After nearly two years of research, planning, and fundraising, Waverley Valley Scout Group is about to have a 3kw solar power system installed on the roof of their hall. This project, led by Rover Crew member Rebecca Gibbs, is an environmental initiative that will help make the Groups’ facilities more sustainable as well as saving money on electricity into the future.
With the price of solar installations coming down and the price of electricity going up, fundraising for a solar power system can be a great investment for your Scout Group (as well as the planet!). For any other Scout Groups looking to go solar, here a few tips we can offer from our experience:
- Take a look at your current electricity usage
Ask your Treasurer for a copy of some recent electricity bills for your hall. Based on the usage, you’ll be able to estimate what sized solar system is most suitable for your Group. Take a look around your hall as well and see if there are any easy ways that you can reduce your usage upfront. For example, changing incandescent light bulbs to LEDs.
Also, have a look the rates your Group is currently paying for their electricity. We discovered that we could do a lot better, and were able to start saving approximately 30% by changing to a better electricity plan with the same provider.
- Get everyone involved
By spreading the word about our project and letting everyone know what we were raising money for, we got great support for our fundraising. The whole Group got involved with a raffle, movie night, and meat tasting evening to raise the money needed. Getting the help of the Group to fundraise the money instead of drawing from the Groups’ savings has helped to give all the Group members some ownership of project.
Promoting our fundraising events was also a great way to let the wider community know about our project, and hopefully inspire others to consider solar.
- Shop around
Take your time to talk to the various solar providers and find the best solution for your Group. Once you know what sized system you are after and where you would like the panels to be located on your roof, shop around the best price. We found that our existing electricity provider was willing to price match the deal offered by another solar company, and also give us a bonus 4 cents increase to the feed-in tariff for four years.
- Don’t give up
As with any project, it is likely that you will encounter some hurdles along the way. Negotiating and getting agreement from the Group Committee, Branch and Council will take some time and can sometimes seem to be going backwards. Be prepared to be patient and follow the project through.