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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Taking a walk

A ‘Watts in Your Business’ energy-saving walk was held at Rocky Varapodio’s OzPac Australia fruit packing shed at Ardmona on Wednesday.

BOB NICOL July 30, 2014 3:25am

Launch: APAL project manager Russell Soderlund, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan, Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone, Senator Bridget McKenzie, AEES Group managing director Richard Marttin and Rocky Varapodio at Wednesday’s launch of Watts in Your Business. Picture: Bob Nicol


The event kicked off the national launch by Senator Bridget McKenzie of energy-saving walks, demonstrating how fruit growers and packers in the Goulburn Valley can cut energy costs and save money in their packing sheds and orchards.

Apple and Pear Australia Limited services manager Annie Farrow, who is leading the project, said cutting energy costs could be a great saving for growers.

‘‘These savings can be made by investing in equipment to remove inefficiencies across grading, lighting, refrigeration and irrigation pump equipment with a payback period of less than six years,’’ she said.

‘‘Once the investment is made, you get the saving every year.’’

The event follows an energy audit of 30 packing sheds in each major growing region to determine the most cost-effective ways to save energy with the shortest payback period.

After labour, energy is the second biggest cost a grower faces.

KMH Environmental’s Amanda Booth, who conducted the audits, said the findings showed that, on average, businesses could save $16 300/year from cost-effective upgrades with a payback period of six years or less.

‘‘Through this program we were able to identify around 10 opportunities per site which would reduce electricity consumption,’’ she said.

‘‘The average saving after implementing the cost-effective upgrades was 13 per cent.’’

Ms Booth said Wednesday’s walk was at an audited location and those attending were taken on a guided tour, stopping at high-energy use locations.

‘‘Areas such as the irrigation pumping plant, refrigeration system, packing line and lighting were discussed, to show where savings could be made in those areas,’’ she said.

Ms Booth not only draws on the lessons learned from the site of the day, but also from sites across the country.

Participants will received information kits including fact sheets and case stories outlining how business costs can be cut.

A number of energy providers, auditors, refrigeration specialists and energy-related businesses were available at the event to discuss energy-saving opportunities.

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