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Community radio powered by the sun through solar

Anthony sits at the microphone
2 Max Fm President Anthony Welchman is pleased to be using solar for the radio station

A suggestion at a 2MaxFM committee meeting that installing solar panels on the roof could save the non-profit community radio station some money is what tuned longstanding president Anthony Welchman into the power of the sun.

“As a non-profit organisation, we are always considering new ways of reducing our costs as much as possible,” said Mr Welchman.

While weighing up the costs, a Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal grant to support the installation of solar on the roof and the combined local support from Geni.Energy was the perfect opportunity to pursue this energy saving project.

With combined factors of radio station equipment operating 24 hours a day from an air-conditioned tech room and radio DJs in the studio from 6 am until midnight, meant constant high use power consumption with a quarterly bill of $1200.

“Even though we are a non-profit organisation, we don’t qualify for any discount on electricity, so the only way to save money was to try for solar.”

The appeal of Geni.Energy was the shared mission as a non-profit organisation.

“We went with Geni.Energy because they are local, and they did a great job.
They were very helpful, and very eager to help us, as they are a non-profit, which we are, we hoped they could do something for us.”

Geni.Energy arranged a site inspection and brought in a solar installer to check everything out.

Solar panels on the roof of the radio station
Solar panels on the roof of the radio station

A team installed a 9-kilowatt solar power system on the roof, which gives the radio station sufficient power as well as enough to feed back into the grid.

“We didn’t have to do anything as far as the contractor was concerned. He came and saw us and it was all done through Geni.Energy. It was very simple."

And what were the savings? On a three-month account with Origin Energy, 2MaxFM's bill is now $500 a quarter.

“That’s $2000 for a non-profit organisation that we don’t have to find at the end of the year.
It doesn’t even matter if the power goes up, the savings are there, and we saw them right away because we had the FRRR grant to help cover the initial $ 15,000 installation."

Though Mr Welchman installed solar panels on his own home six years ago, he still felt he had a lot to learn about what could be achieved from his solar journey and was impressed with the new innovations.

man pointing to inverter for the solar
Anthony shows us the inverter
“People should learn more about what solar can do, and have to get used to these innovations as we’re moving forward with surprising new solar technologies – the amount of energy that can be generated now is quite substantial.
The amount of electricity generated by newer-style panels is a lot more than I generate from mine at home: mine is 165 watts, these are 370.”

My Welchman’s advice to anyone new to the solar journey is to have an open mind, and he could not recommend it highly enough to private organisations.

“If you’re looking at solar and you’re going to be around for a few years, get it, because it’s definitely worth it, especially with the local and government grant opportunities to support private and non-profit organisations.
Community radio will hopefully always be around, and for a non-profit organisation, it’s a no- brainer."

2MaxFM’s next step on the solar power journey is to learn more about batteries, and hope to work with Geni.Energy again in the future.

“From the point of view of dealing with Geni.Energy, I wouldn’t hesitate to say to to people to go and check them out.
Now our radio station is not only volunteer-powered, it’s sun-powered.”

front of the building with solar
2 Max FM is the Voice of the Northwest

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