A fundraising campaign, supported by the Clean Energy Council, has given several families in fire-affected Cobargo access to electricity this winter.
The Bega Valley Shire in New South Wales was one of the hardest-hit areas of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires. Across 65 days, over half of the shire was burned, destroying 448 homes and claiming the lives of four people.
When a friend of Michael Shaughnessy, a Technical Support Officer at the Clean Energy Council, launched a fundraising campaign to deliver and install used solar panels, spare batteries and other components for people living in temporary accommodation, the Clean Energy Council decided to get behind this worthy cause, raising $5000.
“The $8500 raised overall allowed us to provide four families and two individuals with free, quiet and clean power. With winter just around the corner when we made the trip from Melbourne to Cobargo, it was really important to ensure these people were going to be able to get on with reconstruction as soon as possible and stop burying money into their diesel generators,” said Shaughnessy.
“After the clean-up, people are living in tents, lean-tos and caravans, so they’re not very well insulated.”
Shaughnessy said that while installing the solar panels and battery systems was a rewarding experience, it was a relatively small step on the community’s long road to recovery.
“The families and individuals that we were able to help through this project were so grateful for the work we did. But at the same time, you drive away knowing that with the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s focus is now on matters other than the communities whose lives changed overnight with the fires. It’s important to remember that for those who decide to stay in the area, they’ll be rebuilding their lives for the next decade or so. Electricity is something that so many of us take for granted, and for these people, it’s going to make a huge difference.”
Check out this short video of Michael's trip to Cobargo.