Vinnies goes solar

Vinnies Oakleigh is the first of our shops to go live with solar panels following an innovative project developed by the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria.

The project being carried out in conjunction with AGL Australia through a 10-year contract will see 91 solar installations completed for Vinnies across its network of 110 shops, generating 1992 mega-watt hours (MWh) of energy annually, the equivalent generation of more than 415 average Australian homes. 

It is anticipated that the solar panels being installed across the organisation’s shops and facilities will save $1.26 million in energy bills that will be diverted into the hands of Victorians in need. 

The project was launched in June in a ceremony attended by The Honorable Lily D'Ambrosio, State Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes, Oakleigh MP, Steve Dimopoulos, Vinnies Victoria's State President Kevin McMahon and CEO, Sue Cattermole, AGL's General Manager, C&I Customers, Ryan Warburton and representatives from Telstra and Deloitte, which both provided instrumental pro bono support in assisting Vinnies Victoria to achieve its carbon neutral accreditation last year and in selecting a solar partner. 

Last year, Vinnies Victoria was certified carbon neutral, and the solar panel scheme is a major contribution to the organisation’s continued commitment to emissions reduction under the Climate Active certification scheme.

Sue Cattermole said, “We are proud that Vinnies Victoria is a leading community sector organisation making the best use of our funds so that we can support more Victorians in need. 

“Last year, we assisted more than 282,625 people with things that we all consider to be necessities – rent, utility bills, food. We provided hundreds of thousands of meals. We also ensured people didn’t have to choose between medical treatment and putting fuel in their cars, and that kids went to school in proper uniforms and school shoes – and much, much more. 

“This year we anticipate the demand to rise. Every cent that Vinnies Victoria saves will be directed to helping vulnerable Victorians. I would like to thank AGL, Telstra and Deloitte in helping us bring this invaluable project to fruition.” 

AGL Chief Customer Officer, Christine Corbett said AGL is proud to announce its support of the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria, which has been helping struggling Victorians for almost 170 years. 

“To ensure Vinnies can keep doing what they do best and direct their resources to those who need them most, we are honoured to be playing this small role in reducing everyday operating costs,” says Ms Corbett. “AGL will install up to 1.6 MW solar systems across Vinnies’ Shops, reinforcing their commitment to net-zero emissions.” 

Minister D'Ambrosio said at the event, “A big congratulations to Vinnies Victoria, this is a wonderful achievement.

“This is important because none of us can afford to allow the challenges of climate change to become another barrier to vulnerable people in the community getting a fair go.

“This project means that Vinnies frees up more than another $100,000 a year, every year, to spend on its good deeds in the community and the people who benefit from that will grow, and the number of people Vinnies reaches will grow. It’s so smart. And absolutely driven by wanting to go further in terms of the work that Vinnies does and the number of people it helps each and every day.

“Thanks Vinnies for being such a wonderful ‘not-for-profit corporate citizen’.”

Steve Dimopoulos added that he is proud to have such a “gold standard iconic brand in the country such as Vinnies in his electorate”. “Customers who come in here are from my community and they get the double benefit of contributing to the environment by preferencing this store, and also supporting the vulnerable people that Vinnies look after, so what a win-win.”

The driving force behind the project and Vinnies Victoria’s carbon neutral certification is Policy & Research Manager, Gavin Dufty and Business Development Manager, Jason Hulbert. After the shops are all installed with solar, Gavin says that further emissions reductions programs will focus on tackling Vinnies Victoria’s transport fleet with a bid to go hybrid-electric and eventually set up an electric grid that the organisation can run off. 

Main picture (l-r): Oakleigh MP, Steve Dimopoulos, Vinnies Victoria's Sue Cattermole, The Honourable Lily D'Ambrosio, State Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes and AGL's General Manager, C&I Customers, Ryan Warburton.
Inset picture (l-r): Vinnies Victoria's Jeff Antcliff, Executive General Manager - Commercial Services, Jason Hulbert, Business Development Manager with Deloitte's Ashley Wah, Ben Symons and Ka Jhun Lam.