Pictured: U3A Armidale committee members (back) Ray Weston, Dianne Cherry, Marj Stanley. (Front) Penny Nicholson, Ian Jackson (president) and Des Latham.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has announced more than $3500 in funding to help Armidale U3A go solar.
The $3746 grant has been made possible through round three of the Australian Government’s Stronger Communities Programme.
The programme will fund 50 per cent of the $7493 costs associated with installing a solar electricity system at the U3A’s Barney Street premises.
Mr Joyce said the all-volunteer organisation played a vital role in meeting the educational needs of older and retired members in the Armidale community.
He welcomed any assistance to help reduce its running costs.
“This solar system will help cut down the power bills and keep fees low for the 600-plus members already on its books,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s an investment not just in technology and energy savings but further learning too.
“Many of U3A’s courses are free of charge and annual membership is just $40. With the help of this funding, this will be maintained into 2018 as well.”
The organisation planned to use its own funds for the solar system, but when wild weather struck last summer, the committee was forced to fork out nearly $9000 in storm damage repairs.
U3A Armidale President Ian Jackson said this grant will help offset these unforeseen expenses and allow them to continue to provide a valuable service to older people.
“It means we can keep our membership fee as low as possible so no-one is excluded and still remain financially viable,” Mr Jackson said.