The Bass Coast Adult Learning in Wonthaggi (BCAL) is a vibrant, diverse organisation that offers a flexible, supportive and inclusive adult learning environment. They enable community members from Bass Coast and surrounding areas to study, improve works skills and build social capital.
The organisation is a Learn Local provider, Registered Training Organisation and NDIS Capacity Building provider. They offer a range of education and training programs, and community development opportunities, from very basic levels to nationally recognised certificates in particular industries. Courses include Art, Computers, Cooking, Employment and Job Skills, First Aid, Hair & Beauty, Horticulture, Hospitality & Tourism, Life Skills, Maths, Migrant English, Music, Work Safety. BCAL can tailor courses to meet individuals’ and business’s skill needs. Workplace training can be delivered at the work site.
In 2021 BCAL decided to install a renewable energy generation system to reduce their use of grid power and the resulting environmental emission. They were also keen to reduce their power bills so that more of their budget could be used to provide more services.
Their power-use data was used to design the 14.7kw of solar installation and savings were anticipated to be $1,300 annually. Publicly displayed system monitoring was also included so Centre users and visitors can see the power use and generation data in real time. The installation was completed by Advanced Solar and Batteries, a local Wonthaggi business, in February 2022. A battery may be installed in the future.
BCAL applied for, and successfully obtained a $8,500 no interest loan from the Southern Community Owned Renewable Energy Fund which included a substantial donation from us at CoPower thanks to our 2021/22 participatory budget. BCAL contributed $5,000 from their own budget and a further $3,500 was contributed from a Victorian Government Solar for Business rebate. The long-term viability of BCAL’s lease on the property was confirmed. The loan was structured for a 3 year repayment period and was underwritten by Bass Coast Shire Council. The first repayment was made in April 2022.
Southern Community Owned Renewable Energy Fund is similar to a revolving fund where loan repayments are used to fund further renewable energy projects. In the past this has limited the number of projects completed each year while we wait for the loan fund to be replenished before approving the next project. The donations from Copower will enable more projects to be completed each year.