Powering a bright future in Narooma

The town of Narooma, NSW, faced the prospect of losing one of their community’s most valuable assets – the School of Arts Hall.  Built in 1926, it is home to the local cinema and theatre but due to the ongoing high power costs of operating the venue for these purposes, it was at risk of shutting down.

Despite attempts to lower the hall’s energy usage by conducting energy audits and implementing recommendations, the power costs continued to remain at an unsustainable level, particularly because of the energy demands of the projector.

In addition to the prospect of losing a valuable local entertainment option, the hall is a valuable economic resource for the Narooma community. Not only is it an entertainment hub, but it is also a vital space to conserve the local community’s heritage, and a hugely important tourist attraction. All of these issues made it critical to find a way to keep the hall alive and functioning.

After much research, the committee decided to install solar panels. The Narooma School of Arts & Soldiers’ War Memorial Hall Inc. committee was awarded a $10,000 grant through the CATCH program, funded by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, to install solar panels on the hall’s roof. The 40 solar panels (10kW) offset the hall’s energy costs in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way and require little maintenance.

Since their installation in late February, 2016, the solar panels have reduced the hall’s power consumption by 25%, helping improve the commercial viability of the School of Arts Hall’s uses, most significantly as a cinema.

Thanks to the grant, the School of Arts Hall continues to serve more than 40,000 people a year, both locals and visitors, benefiting the surrounding local businesses and broader community.

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