Regis Yeronga

Aged-care provider and residents celebrate their solar-powered future

Regis Aged Care has 63 aged-care facilities around Australia offering residential healthcare support for people with various care needs. Services include ageing-in-place, respite care, specialist dementia care and palliative care. Regis also has options for short stays and respite care.

Case details

Client name:
Regis Aged Care Pty Ltd
Location:
Stage 1 Installations: 17 homes across Queensland (8), South Australia (4), Tasmania (2), Victoria and Western Australia (2)

Like most businesses, Regis Aged Care faces the challenge of having to fund its significant energy needs. Regis searched for a sustainable and affordable energy solution that would help stabilise unpredictable and seemingly ever-increasing power bills. Key to a successful delivery of the 17 solar systems in Stage 1 for Regis was to minimise impact on residents. Project delivery that focused on a high standard of quality, time and cost management was expected and delivered by Planet Ark Power.

Installing solar systems for Regis presented a number of challenges inherent to aged care facilities and the vulnerable state of many residents. Access to these facilities by assessors and installers needed to be strictly controlled, in compliance with relevant protection legislation. Occupational health and safety practices at the work sites also needed to be strictly enforced around the clock, to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

Added to these challenges, Planet Ark Power’s Institutional Program Manager, Shaun Scallan, says the solar installations across 17 Regis homes in five Australian states required interactions with six different grid operators (known as Distributed Network Service Providers or DNSPs).

“All energy utilities have much the same constraints,” he says, “but they each do things slightly differently. One of the challenges for our engineering team was making sure we understood and complied with all those different requirements. Fortunately the team could draw on its unique pool of expertise – we calculate that we have over 130 years of utility engineering experience. We know how utilities work and how to connect to them across Australia.”

Planet Ark Power tailored 17 solar power systems to the roof spaces and electrical layouts of 17 Regis Aged Care facilities. In total, this comprises 4400 solar panels covering a total area of 8564 ㎡, enough to cover 33 tennis courts and which is now generating 1.6 MW of electricity.

“It’s really important for corporate Australia to play a strong role in ensuring we move towards a carbon neutral economy,” says Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko. “So it is great to see Regis taking this major step in their sustainability journey, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration, which has environmental and economic benefits for Regis and their residents.”

Keeping Regis residents safe

During the rollout, Fiona Kirk (Regis Operations Manager) was surprised to discover the level of interest residents had in the Regis sustainability initiatives. “We have a lot of grandchildren and great-grandchildren visiting with families and our residents are concerned about their welfare. Having solar put onto our homes has been very well received by our residents.”

A key concern for Regis management when considering installations in their sensitive environments was the potential impact on their residents. But Fiona says Planet Ark Power was amazing, with site access strictly controlled using new technology that allowed site project managers to detect, monitor and manage the presence of workers.

Apart from technical expertise, Michael Horwood (Regis Executive General Manager – Property) found Planet Ark Power’s collaborative approach and good communication to be real strengths of the successful rollout. “We were never in doubt about what was happening, what the program was or what was going to happen next,” Michael says. “It’s really important for our facilities to understand what’s going to be happening so we can plan for it, and Planet Ark Power achieved that. We would recommend Planet Ark Power to any company that was looking to do solar installation.”

“To make the installation process seamless required a high degree of coordination between the sites to allow us to shut things down and then be able to reconnect the systems,” Shaun says. “We were very mindful of the residents, making sure not to disturb them or encroach on their areas, and restricting their access to our work areas for their own safety, too.”

Planet Ark Power invited the Regis project manager to join its team, literally. “That was really important,” Shaun recalls, “he attended meetings and provided the key link into Regis to ensure things could proceed smoothly. Our two organisations developed a great working relationship; Regis very much fitted with our culture of focusing on outcomes and working together collaboratively. That continues to be a strong part of the relationship post-commissioning. They know that if there are any problems we talk openly and honestly about them and we work things out together.”

Planet Ark Power solar systems now supply 16% of the energy requirements of these 17 Regis homes. In total the systems are generating, on average, 1.6MW. This is reducing emissions by 1600 tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to removing 350 cars from our roads.

According to Michael Horwood (Regis Executive General Manager – Property), the quality of the performance management system was an important consideration in choosing Planet Ark Power. “We were very keen within Regis to get our first reports and we were very pleased to see that we were producing just slightly more than was predicted.” Along with the positive experience overall, the information in those performance graphs was integral to the Regis Board confidently committing to a second stage of Planet Ark Power solar installations.

Regis solar investment is based on sound financial considerations and demonstrates to residents, visitors and other businesses that a clean, green energy solution is a smart decision. Regis residents can sleep soundly, knowing their residence is helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and providing corporate leadership in sustainability.

Aged-care facilities have plenty of roof space that could be harvesting the financial and other benefits from harnessing the energy of the sun. They are challenging locations to work in, but Planet Ark Power has demonstrated that large-scale solar systems can be installed with minimal disruption while maintaining the safety of residents. We are ready and able to help your aged care facility take immediate, affordable action to reduce your power bills for decades while helping to mitigate our planet’s climate emergency.

Testimonial

Planet Ark Power have been really good to work with throughout this rollout. It has been seamless; we’ve had very little disruption to any of our aged care homes…When we announced that we were implementing solar panels the residents were extremely excited because of what we can give back…the fact that we can reduce our environmental impact for the generations to come.

Fiona Kirk, Operations Manager, Regis Aged Care Pty Ltd.