Sunshine Coast community part of plan for 10,000 homes to use cost-saving virtual power plants

Hundreds of residents in several Queensland communities are saving a fortune by producing up to 90 per cent of their own energy. Find out which regions are benefiting.

Electricity bills plunged as low as $8 a month for homeowners in power-plant trials across residential estates that will be rolled out nationally to more than 9000 more homes.

The move comes as developer GemLife launched its latest virtual power plant at Maroochy Quays on the Sunshine Coast on Monday, part of a plan to see more than 10,000 homes use VPPs over the next six years.

The development could spark more new residential developments to consider sustainable-energy options.

GemLife chief executive Adrian Pulijich said “we hope the broader industry will follow suit”.

He said the systems that led to communities producing up to 90 per cent of their own energy were already operating across GemLife Maroochy Quays, GemLife Bribie Island and GemLife Palmwoods resorts in South East Queensland for more than 700 homes.

He plans to oversee more than $75m in similar investments to do the same over the next six years across 11 existing and new communities in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

“The VPP shields residents from soaring electricity prices, offering bill consistency, which is vitally important for our residents, the majority of who are on fixed incomes,” Mr Pulijich said.

He said more than 700 homes were already on VPPs at no cost to them, with all existing GemLife communities to go the same way by the end of 2024.

The move could spur more new residential developments to consider sustainable energy options.

“We hope the broader industry will follow suit,” Mr Pulijich said.

The system includes a network of homes and community facilities with rooftop solar plus a bank of commercial- grade battery connected via smart AI-driven technology, which is capable of predicting the demand for energy use, by monitoring weather conditions and optimal charge times.

GemLife Palmwoods residents Eric and Margaret Martin said the initiative plus their age discount were a relief.

“Our bills have been very small, and once the senior’s discount has been applied, we’ve had nothing to pay at all,” Mrs Martin said.

“It’s such a relief not having to worry about using the airconditioner when it’s hot and fearing what your electricity bill will be at the end of the month.”

Mr Martin said the community initiative meant they could “enjoy the benefit of electricity savings through the VPP without having to think about any costs associated with upgrading or maintaining the system ourselves”.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said residents there, like everywhere else across the country, were facing rising cost-of-living challenges.

“That is why it is so important to take the time to recognise the innovation and commitment of organisation’s such as GemLife, whose programs look to be part of the solution and support our communities,” he said.