Meeting on the morning of the first of three Second XI matches between ACT/NSW Country Comets and NSW Metro, Paul and Daryn joined captains Dan Christian and Steve O’Keefe for the toss to mark the first competitive fixture at the newly-renamed EPC Solar Park.

For Daryn Stocks, the partnership represents a very personal connection: “Having played a lot of footy here over the years it’s nice to come back and have the park named after the business. We’re a partnership and we really enjoy these relationships that are long term and mutually beneficial. We can provide savings, and hopefully we’re able to generate a bit more work through our advertising so it works well for everyone and we’re looking forward to being a long term partner.”

Those savings come from a recent addition to the Cricket ACT High Performance centre: 160 410W SunPower solar panels on the roof of the Cricket ACT Building, which generate 65.6kw of power, and an SG50CX 50kw inverter that allows excess power to be sold to the grid.

“All the power gets produced throughout the day, gets consumed and takes down the baseload, and then anything surplus gets exported to the grid and Cricket ACT gets paid for that surplus power” explained Daryn, “That goes to paying for the lights at night, which is obviously a large cost to the business. That’s a saving of about 40% on current usage, and we’ve got software called Solar Energy that allows us to determine when the power is being produced and used and through that we’re able to maximise the return on investment by using power at the right time.”

Speaking afterwards, Paul Walshe said: “I’d like to thank Daryn and EPC for coming on board with Phillip Oval. It’s a great advantage to us to be able to reduce our energy cost by putting solar on the roof. That makes a big difference to our bottom line so we can continue to invest in Phillip Oval and the precinct. We’ve got some grand infrastructure plans, for this ground and precinct to be the top second tier in NSW/ACT. We want EPC Solar Park to be something the community is proud of and something that’s got longevity.”

Community sport in the context of COVID-19 shone through as a shared focus for both Paul and Daryn. As Daryn said: “With everything happening around the world there’s a real focus on renewable energy and that’s a stimulus for getting businesses back on track, so it’s going to be a busy time for us for the next couple of years!

It’s great to be a part of it. We all love our sport, we’re a diverse and multicultural business and all the guys are looking forward to coming out and watching games too.”

Paul concurred, and spoke of the challenges Phillip Oval Management Group have faced: “A 40% saving is significant – it’s a tough business. It’s hard to get sponsorships through COVID, a lot of business are doing it tough out there and not investing in sponsorship the way they were pre-COVID.”

“We talk about coming out of COVID, and what sport will mean to people around their mental health, their fitness and wellbeing. We’ve got to ensure we continue to have these facilities available for all clubs and that they’re maintained the right way. We’re all in this together.”