HALLS GAP - A proposal has been put forward by Halls Gap Zoo owners Greg and Yvonne Culell to make the zoo totally self sufficient in electricity supply.
Greg and Yvonne have been working with Leigh Stacey from electrical wholesaler Middys to develop plans for the construction of a large solar panel collection site in the zoo carpark. This would double as a carport for zoo customers to park their vehicles under.
The proposal was put to the Minister for Energy and Resources Nicholas Kotsiras, who visited the zoo on Thursday.
Mr and Mrs Culell invited the Minister, along with Member for Western Victoria, David O'Brien, Mayor, Cr Wayne Rice and Cr Karen Hyslop from the Northern Grampians Shire and Joe McLelland from State Development and Business Innovation, to hear the proposal.
Mr Culell said his hope would be to attract some form of funding for the solar proposal, perhaps on a dollar for dollar basis through the State Government.
The initial proposal will be that the Halls Gap Zoo remain connected to the grid for two or three years, at which point battery technology will have advanced enough for these to be added, to enable the zoo to disconnect from the grid entirely.
Greg and Yvonne would also be adding a small diesel generator so that if the electricity supply is down for any reason, the animals are not left without heat or cooling depending on the season.
Yvonne Culell said she was delighted with the outcome of the visit, with the Minister gaining a full understanding of the zoo's operation and its level of employment.
"I think the Minister went from expecting a couple of kangaroos in a paddock, to being impressed with what we have established here," Mrs Culell said.
"When he heard how many people we employ and what our plans are for the future, I think it really grabbed his attention.
"We are very committed to reducing our carbon footprint here at the zoo. There are many ways this can be achieved and this innovative new plan is just one concept we came up with.
"As a result of this, we are very hopeful something will come out of the visit."