Are you, or do you know of, a community group looking to reduce energy use, save money and lower emissions?
The Powering Communities Program in Indi provides $67,700 to fund up to 12 small projects that will assist community groups to improve energy efficiency practices, lower energy use, save money and reduce emissions.
Not-for-profit, community organisations are invited to submit an expression of interest to my office for projects of between $5000 - $12000 to:
Eligible purchases include solar PV, batteries, air conditioning, hot water heaters, LED lighting, cooktops and refrigerators and energy audits. A full list can be found in the Guidelines here: https://business.gov.au/grants-and-programs/powering-communities-program.
Community organisations must meet specific eligibility requirements and provide documentation to support their final application if their EOI is successful. I strongly recommended that you carefully read the grant guidelines before applying.
The guidelines require that community groups use Clean Energy Council accredited retailers and installers and choose Clean Energy Council approved products.
A list of accredited installers and products is available here:
Installers - https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/consumers/buying-solar/find-an-installer
Products/Retailers - https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/consumers/buying-solar/find-an-approved-solar-retailer
To submit an expression of interest please complete this online form. Expressions of interest must be submitted online by 5.00pm Friday 2 July 2021. Once received, expressions of interest will be assessed by my grants consultative committee in mid-July 2021. Successful applicants will then be invited to make a full application for funding.
For further information, please call Helen Haines office:
Helen Haines MP
Independent Federal Member for Indi
117 Murphy Street Wangaratta VIC 3677
T 03 5721 7077
79 High Street Wodonga VIC 3690
T 02 6024 6284
Renewable Energy Benalla (REB)
Report to Benalla Sustainable Future Group AGM - Thursday 27 May 2021
While the activities of Renewable Energy Benalla were impacted by COVID restrictions during 2020 some activities resumed with the easing of restrictions in 2021.
Benalla Community Energy Project (BCEP)
REB has been successful in implementing the Benalla Community Energy Project (BCEP) which aims to establish a donation based revolving fund to install solar panels, or undertake energy efficiency upgrades, on community facilities in and around Benalla.
The project provides interest free loans to the selected community facilities, to fund the works required, with no upfront contribution being required from the receiving community organisation. Loan repayments to the fund from the host site are based on the estimated savings made on energy bills. The loan repayments gradually rebuild the balance of the fund, which can then eventually be used to make a loan to another community building. In this way the fund becomes a revolving fund.
We were able to undertake our first project without conducting a fund raising program, as we obtained a grant for $5000 from the Winton Solar Farm Community Benefit program. This grant, along with a significant donation from Sandy Campbell and a significant in-kind contribution from SolarGain, enabled us to install panels on Munro Ave kindergarten.
Following installation of the panels we conducted an official 'switch-on' ceremony at Munro Ave kindergarten on May 6th where Dr Helen Haines, the Independent Member for Indi, launched the Community Energy Project.
At the conclusion of this ceremony we announced the next project would be the Bernard Briggs Kindergarten.
A special thank you to members of the BCEP working group: David Blore, Patricia Brooke, Karen Nankervis.
Thanks are also due to the BSFG committee for their support of the BCEP.
Website and Social Media
Bev Lee and Peter Maddock continue to manage the operation of the REB website which receives a lot of attention.
Recently they have been joined by Heath Wiley who has initiated an Instagram account and is an excellent photographer. Our thanks to this Web team.
Waste to Energy: Adrian Howden continues to investigate a variety of options for a utility scale waste to energy project for the Benalla region. COVID has restricted the extent of these investigations.
Solar Garden: Kevin Smith has been investigating Solar Gardens with the ultimate aim of establishing one in Benalla. A 'solar garden' is like a small solar farm where households unable to install solar panels (e.g. renters) can buy a 'plot' of panels and receive an annual credit against their energy bills for the energy it produces.
North East Community Energy Network (NECEN)
This network consists of representatives from all the community energy groups in North East Victoria.
A lot of valuable networking takes place at these meetings with each group reporting on their activities. The network is supported by Indigo Power. Following the success of the trial Community Power Hubs the state government is making funding available to set up six more hubs in Victoria. Indigo Power and Goulburn Valley Community Energy have put in a joint application to establish a Community Power Hub in Hume Region.
The Benalla Stationary Energy Transition Strategy which was developed with support from Beyond Zero Emissions details appropriate strategies to achieve our goal of 100% renewables by 2028. However this is a complex task and while REB has managed to work on some of the strategies outlined in the Transition Strategy document we urgently need more people to join us to help us achieve our goal.
Many of you will have recently received a letter appealing for people to join REB and help us achieve our vision of Benalla becoming a zero net energy town by 2028. This remains an urgent need.
Dear Friends of Renewable Energy Benalla
The last twelve months has presented many challenges, however one positive thing that did occur was that ordinary people did some amazing things to help others who were struggling. It seemed that a sense of community became important once again. I write about this as Renewable Energy Benalla is very much in need of this community spirit.
I believe that most of you will know that Renewable Energy Benalla, (REB), has a vision of Benalla becoming a zero net energy town by reducing and balancing local stationary energy needs with a 100% renewable energy supply.
Beyond Zero Emissions, a national climate think-tank has helped REB develop the Benalla Stationary Energy Transition Strategy, with its goal of 100% renewable stationary energy by 2028.
However, achieving zero net energy by 2028 is an ambitious and complex task. I am writing to you as Renewable Energy Benalla (REB) urgently needs more people to help us to achieve this goal.
While this letter is about seeking help for REB, I believe that there are benefits for those who volunteer to become involved with REB. You would become part of a group of like-minded people who are concerned about leaving a safer climate for our children and grandchildren, as well as helping to build a sustainable and renewable energy future for Benalla. By being an active and connected member of REB you would be helping to rebuild the sense of community, which is so important. Your involvement would certainly promote a sense of purpose and achievement. You will also be meeting new people with whom you will be able to share your skills and learn new skills from them.
Some of the ways in which people could help REB are:
Background information on REB and its activities is included in the attachment.
As I have said above, Renewable Energy Benalla urgently needs more people to help us achieve our goal. If you are willing to help us do this, please contact me by email or phone.
Renewable Energy Benalla
Tel: 5765 2476 Mob: 0427 662 706 email: email@example.com
Helen Haines - "the Munro Avenue Kindergarten's new solar panel installation ... is a shining example of how our region is seeing real benefits from locally owned renewables'...
L to R: John Lloyd (Convenor, Renewable Energy Benalla), David Blore(Benalla Community Energy Project (BCEP), Patricia Brooke (BCEP); Karen Nankervis (BCEP), Sandy Campbell, Brad Foletta (Solar Gain), Dr Helen Haines (MP for Indi), Alan Robertson (Head of Construction, Winton Solar Farm/FRV), Sue Campbell, Michelle Lindsay (Munro Avenue Pre-School Teacher), with three dear little preschool students, energy consumers of the future!
John Lloyd’s presentation at the ‘Switch On’ ceremony for the Munro Avenue Pre-school ‘behind the meter’ initiative
…I would like to explain how the solar panels came to be installed on Munro Ave Preschool.
As Michelle mentioned, I am Convenor of Renewable Energy Benalla, which is an action group of Benalla Sustainable Future Group, a not-for-profit community group which actively encourages taking action on climate change.
Renewable Energy Benalla seeks to encourage the uptake of renewable energy in Benalla Rural City and has initiated the Benalla Community Energy Project as one way of contributing to this. The community energy project aims to establish a donation based revolving fund to install solar panels or undertake energy efficiency upgrades on community facilities in and around Benalla.
The project provides interest free loans to the selected community facilities, to fund the works required, with no upfront contribution being necessary. Loan repayments to the fund from the host site are based on the estimated savings made on energy bills. The loan repayments gradually rebuild the balance of the fund, which can then be used to make a loan to another community building. In this way the fund becomes a revolving fund.
Donations from the community help rebuild the balance of the fund more quickly than relying solely on loan repayments, which enables new loans to be made to other community facilities more frequently.
Following discussions with the kindergarten management group, the North East Regional PreSchool Association, Munro Ave was selected as our first project. Normally, we would have needed to conduct a fund raising program but we were fortunate enough to obtain a grant from the Winton Solar Farm Community Benefit Program, which together with significant contributions from others, enabled us to undertake our first project without the need for fund raising. Future projects however will require donations from the community. We have established a facility to accept on-line donations and the details are on the publicity leaflets available today.
I would now like to thank the people and organisations that have made major contributions to this project.
I will start with Susan and Sandy Campbell. Sandy was involved in some of the early discussion about establishing the fund and decided to make a significant donation to 'kick start' the fund.
When the Winton Solar Farm announced their Community Benefit Scheme we applied for a grant of $5000 which we were fortunate enough to receive. We knew that this would enable us to start our first project without having to conduct a fund raising program. Our thanks to Zach Tariq, Project Manager at Winton Solar Farm who unfortunately is an apology today as he is not well, to Alan Robertson, Head of Construction, and to Sarah Stent, Community Engagement person for FRV, the builders of the Winton Solar Farm.
I also need to thank Brad Foletta, the Manager at SolarGain Wangaratta. Some months ago I was talking to Brad about Renewable Energy Benalla and our plans to establish this Community Energy Project. He was interested and said that he thought it was time for SolarGain to give something back to the community. SolarGain did this by making a significant in-kind contribution to the installation costs of the panels.
There have been others who have supported us in this project. We were able to obtain a small grant from DELWP, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, which enabled us to employ consultants to develop guidelines for project management and governance of the Community Energy Project. Thank you to Fiona Roberts from DELWP and to the consultants Cath Botta and Trish Curtiss, who did the work for a reduced fee.
Without the contributions and support from all these people we would not be here today celebrating this event.
Introducing Helen Haines MP …
It is now my pleasure to introduce Dr Helen Haines, the Independent Federal Member for Indi, who will officially launch this project.
Among the many aspects of her work for Indi communities, Dr Haines has a special interest in promoting renewable energy and in particular Community Energy. During 2020 she consulted with a panel of local community energy leaders to develop the Local Power Plan. The goal of the Local Power Plan is to encourage investment in community owned energy in regional areas, which would allow ordinary Australians to share in the benefits of the renewable energy boom.
In February, Helen tabled in Parliament her private member's bill, the Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021, which would implement the recommendations of the Local Power Plan.
Given Helen's interest in this area we felt it was highly appropriate to ask her to officially launch our project today.
Our Next Community Energy Project …
I would now like to publically announce our next project. This will be to install panels on the Bernard Briggs kindergarten in Church Street. This project will take some time to be implemented as it will largely depend on donations from the community. While the loan repayments from Munro Ave will help, they will take some time to rebuild the balance of the fund. We will be initiating a fund raising program in the near future. However, if you would like to donate to our fund now, the details are on the publicity leaflet.
Finally, can I thank you all for attending our official launch today and once again a special thankyou to all those who have contributed to this project. I would especially like to thank Michelle for her cooperation in allowing us to conduct this ceremony at the kindergarten today.
Convenor, Renewable Energy Action (REB), an action group of
Benalla Sustainable Future Group (BSFG)
Thursday 6 May 2021
On Friday 9 April, photographer Heath Whiley took these wonderful photos of the team from Solar Gain installing solar panels on Munro Avenue Preschool - the inaugural REB Community Energy Project. Renewable Energy Benalla would like to acknowledge Solar Gain for their generous'in-kind' contribution of labour costs involved in installing the panels, along with a significant initial contribution to establish the Renewable Energy Fund by Sandy and Sue Campbell, and of course the Community Grant of $5000 received from the Winton Solar Farm.
The PV solar array and connection assets for the Goorambat East Solar Farm, a 640 hectare large utility scale solar farm rated at 250MWs, were approved with a planning permit in December 2019 by the Benalla Rural City Council. Neoen are underway planning of a new Telstra Mobile Tower to service both the project and the community. Landscape screening plans are also being considered as the project is preparing for construction. (Goorambat Solar Farm webpage accessed 3 April, 2021.)
The February Bulletin from Neoen's Goorambat Solar Farm released explained that "progress on the Goorambat Solar Farms has slowed due to grid connection issues. Neoen is working hard behind the scenes to keep the projects moving'.
Neoen's recent involvement with the Goorambat community includes:
Goorambat Solar Farms - Community Relations Plan - It is noted Goorambat East Solar Farm is able to operate as a stand alone plan within Neoen's Goorambat Solar Farm development.
Mailing list - if you would like to receive regular updates directly from Neoen, go to the Goorambat Solar Farm's Contact Page
Desert Rose House recently won an Australian Engineering Excellence Award. About 70% of people living with dementia actually live in the community, not within an aged care setting. House designs like this one may provide the answer. The house design was submitted and built for the 2018 Solar Decathlon in Dubai but we think it has many features applicable for inland Australia, particularly in a warming climate. It contains many automatic thermal control elements which are available off the shelf.
Read the article: Building a sustainable, dementia-friendly home in the desert
by Edie-Louise Diemar October 29, 2020 on the Create - Engineering Ideas into Reality - Australian Engineers website . The photography of the Desert Rose House was included in the article.
Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021 introduced by Helen Haines MP into Federal Parliament on February 22 2021
Speaking at BSFG's Climate Science Talks on Friday 26 February, Helen Haines MP updated the local community on the progress of the Local Power Plan initiative , reporting that she had introduced the Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021 into Federal Parliament earlier that week. This bill encapsulates the Local Power Plan, a blueprint for everyday Australians to benefit from the coming renewable energy boom in heir local area. An informativebackground paper 'Unlocking community energy in Australia' , updates and other resources are available on the Local Power Plan Website.
Helen's passion for renewable energy is contagious. “In the 21st century we can build a new generation of prosperity by catching the suns rays and surfing the prevailing winds."
We recently received and are considering the information on the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative from Fiona Roberts, Community and Partnerships Program Officer, Hume Region
Forest, Fire and Regions | Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
The Neighborhood Battery Initiative is now open for applications. There are two streams of project funding of a total of $3 million. The first stream is for project development and the second stream is for projects that are ready to be implemented. See announcement below for more details and a link to the website for guidelines, FAQs and application portal. Applications for the NBI closes 5pm 11 April 2021. Successful applicants will be notified in May 2021.
A Consultation Paper seeking stakeholder views about the opportunities and challenges associated with neighbourhood-scale batteries in Victoria is now available on the Engage Victoria website. I encourage you to read this and give your valued input and feedback. This also closes on 11 April 2021. Here is the link to the consultation paper: https://engage.vic.gov.au/victorian-neighbourhood-battery-initiative-consultation
The Victorian Government has launched the $3 million Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI), inviting applications for neighbourhood-scale battery projects from local investors, businesses, community groups and other interested parties. These batteries can provide a range of benefits to electricity users, networks and Victorian communities by playing a valuable role in supporting residential solar systems to soak up excess solar output during the day which can then be dispatched during times of peak demand.
Stream 1: Project development
Funding (of up to $150,000) will be provided for project(s) that:
Stream 2: Implementation-ready projects
Funding (of up to $800,000) will be provided for project(s) that:
the NBI close on 11 April 2021.
Announced in December 2020, winners of Winton Solar Farm Community Grants and funded projects included 'Renewable Energy Benalla – seed funding for a new Community Energy Project'.
"John Lloyd, convenor of volunteer sustainability group, Renewable Energy Benalla, (an action group of Benalla Sustainable Future Group) said seed funding would enable the group to launch its Community Energy Project and progressively install solar and energy efficiency upgrades on local community buildings.
“Funding from Winton Solar Farm will enable us to provide a loan to Munro Avenue Preschool to install premium solar panels and a smart meter next month.
“With the savings they make from going solar, the Preschool can pay back this loan in a few years, at which point we will reinvest the money into providing new solar panels for another community group,” he said."
Extract from Winton Solar Farm news item - $35,000 in social support awarded as part of Winton Solar Farm Community Grants. December 15, 2020
Yesterday I was informed that the Community Energy Project was successful in obtaining a $5000 grant from Winton Solar Farm.
This will enable us to install panels on our first project – Munro Ave preschool.
More information to come!
Infrastructure Victoria is inviting 450 Victorians to participate in a series of engagement activities to explore how we can move away from petrol-and diesel-powered vehicles to meet the state’s emissions targets.
The transport sector is Victoria’s second most emission intensive sector, accounting for around 20 per cent of the state’s total carbon dioxide emissions (22.3 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e) from a total of 113.9 Mt (CO2e) in 2016).
Cars are the biggest contributor, generating 56 per cent of our transport emissions. Unless Victorians adopt low or zero emission vehicles at a faster pace than current trends, we will not reach the state’s legislated target of net zero emissions by 2050.
Infrastructure Victoria is inviting participants to meet in a state-wide online community panel which will inform recommendations to be included in Victoria’s updated 30-year infrastructure strategy, to be finalised mid next year. Participants will also be compensated for their involvement through a $60 payment on conclusion of the events.
Infrastructure Victoria is an independent advisory body responsible for preparing a 30-year infrastructure strategy for Victoria. We encourage public debate about infrastructure needs, issues and preferences to help inform planning and solutions that will better meet the needs of Victorian communities.
Invitation to community members:
Infrastructure Victoria is inviting 450 Victorians to get involved in a series of online activities, between 25 January and 19 February 2021, to explore how Victorians can be supported to reduce transport emissions. We want to hear from people of different ages, genders, jobs, cultural backgrounds, accessibility needs and postcodes to ensure the panel participants and solutions are broadly representative of the Victorian population.
The expression of interest form is available online on Infrastructure Victoria’s website at www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/communitypanel
Community panel members will hear from a range of subject matter experts and learn why we need to transition to low or zero emission cars. Participants will also take part in online activities where they can ask questions, discuss key themes, share their views and ultimately provide advice and feedback to Infrastructure Victoria.
Key dates and details
Expression of interest nomination period
9 November – 11 December, 2020
Notification of successful participants
14 – 18 December, 2020
25 January – 19 February, 2021 with approximately 15 hours total commitment. The majority of this time is self-paced.
Are you interested in becoming a panel member?
For more information and to complete a panel expression of interest application, go to www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/communitypanel
Hello to friends of Renewable Energy Benalla,
You may be aware of the recent announcement by the Victorian government that the state budget will include $797 million to encourage energy efficiency and assist people to pay their energy bills.
The Australian Energy Foundation along with Brotherhood of St Laurence & Uniting, are delivering a new program on behalf of the State Government to help Victorians who have been impacted by COVID 19 understand how to manage their energy bill, through a free consultation over the phone.
The Australian Energy Foundation has asked Renewable Energy Benalla to promote this program through our network.
I have attached a brochure that provides more details about the program and the assistance available. The brochure also provides details on how to register for this program.
If you have friends or neighbours who you think would benefit from this program please pass on the information to them.
Renewable Energy Benalla (REB) Action Group Report 2020
Renewable Energy Benalla Vision:
For Benalla to become a zero net energy town by reducing and balancing energy demand with 100% renewable energy supply. Whilst Renewable Energy Benalla (REB) was busy during the last six months of 2019 the arrival of the COVID 19 pandemic early in 2020 has resulted in the cessation of monthly meetings and most other activity.
Transition Strategy to 100% Renewables
The major focus for REB is to implement the Transition Strategy that was developed in conjunction with Beyond Zero Emissions. The transition strategy detailed three major strategies that need to be implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve zero net energy.
These strategies are:
Strategy 1. Promoting Energy Efficiency A series of six fortnightly sessions focussing on improving the energy efficiency of existing houses were conducted during August to October. These sessions were advertised with the heading, Reduce Energy Bills and Increase Thermal Comfort, and covered the following topics: Understanding energy bills; Draught Proofing & Insulation; Lighting & Windows; Efficient Hot Water Systems, Heating and Cooling; Appliances & Cooking; Energy Monitoring, Solar Power & Batteries. Renewable Energy Benalla was successful in obtaining a Community Sponsorship Grant from Benalla Rural City to enable us to conduct these sessions. While the content of these sessions was well received we were somewhat disappointed with the relatively small number of participants. We will give consideration to what changes we need to make to have more people attend as our plans are to repeat these sessions for a number of years to help achieve the goal of reducing energy demand by one third over the remaining eight years of the transition strategy.
Strategy 2. Promoting Roof Top Solar The final session of the Energy Efficiency series was about the advantages of installing solar panels and issues around battery storage.
Another way to promote roof top solar was our work on establishing a community energy project.
Community Energy Project
As part of promoting roof top solar REB has been investigating the establishment of a Community Energy Project based on donations from the community that would provide solar panels for community buildings such as kindergartens. BSFG has established a Benalla Renewable Energy Fund that community members can donate to. This fund will be used to enable the installation of solar panels on kindergartens and other community buildings with no upfront costs required from the community organisation.
We are planning to adopt the CORENA model of providing loans to the host sites with loan repayments based on the savings made on energy bills. The fund then becomes a revolving fund that enables loans to be made to other host sites for the installation of solar panels or implementation of energy efficiency measures.
REB has been successful in obtaining a small grant from the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) to enable us to employ consultants to prepare guidelines for project management of the Community Energy Project including governance, fundraising, selection criteria, publicity and community engagement.
As reported last year REB was successful in obtaining a grant from DELWP for the production of four communication pamphlets designed to encourage people to install solar panels and to provide information about energy efficiency. The titles of the pamphlets; Renewable Energy Benalla - Our Vision Energy Efficiency at Home, Keeping a rental house comfortable and energy efficient, Installing Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) and Batteries. Strategy
3. Investigating Utility Scale Renewables One member of the REB committee has been doing a lot of work investigating the possibility of establishing a regional utility scale waste to energy project in Benalla. A number of discussions have been held with Council staff about the feasibility of such a project. Further investigation and discussion with council will continue.
Hume Region DELWP, as part of their Climate Ready Hume project had funds available for free screenings of the documentary film "2040" which looks at the effects of climate change over the next 20 years and what technologies that exist today can reverse the effects. BSFG and REB applied for a screening at BPACC in December which was very successful with 160 people attending.
The REB website, www.reb.org.au has been very successful and receives lots of 'hits'. Our thanks to Bev Lee and Peter Maddock, for their great work in maintaining the website.
North East Community Energy Network (NECEN) This network consists of representatives from all the ten community energy groups in North East Victoria. Meetings are held every 2 months in Wangaratta but of late have been via Zoom. A lot of valuable networking takes place at these meetings with each group reporting on their activities. This network is supported by Indigo Power.
One major initiative that REB took part in was a regional hot water bulk buy. There were two systems available; a very efficient heat pump system or an evacuated tube solar system. The major purpose was to encourage people to reduce energy demand by installing a very energy efficient hot water system. Four people took up this offer in Benalla with 65 systems being installed across the region.
Launch of Indigo Power REB took part in promoting the launch of Indigo Power, a community owned energy company. There were a series of launches to be held in regional centres, including Benalla, but COVID 19 came along and the launches were conducted by Zoom. Indigo Power is a registered Social Enterprise, which means that 50% of profits will be shared amongst the community. Indigo Power aims to encourage the move to 100% renewable energy for our region.
Future of Renewable Energy Benalla:
REB began as an action group of BSFG but then in August 2018 REB decided to become an incorporated association basically to protect the name from a potential commercial organisation wanting to adopt it.
The REB group has always been a small group and has struggled to meet its objectives and meet the requirements of the model rules for incorporated associations. We have decided to cancel REB's incorporation and revert to being an action group of BSFG once again.
Community Engagement to help Achieve our Vision: A plan to achieve zero net energy by 2028 is an ambitious and complex task. REB need more people from the community to assist with implementing the Transition Strategy. This may be to help with a small distinctive task or to become involved in the organisation of a specific event or project. REB is currently investigating ways to improve our engagement with the Benalla community and to encourage people to become involved in achieving 100% renewables by 2028.
John Lloyd, Convenor,
Renewable Energy Benalla
The Winton Solar Farm has launched its annual Community Grants Program with up to $20,000 available for local community groups. Please see further information below from Winton Solar Farm Project Manager, Zach Tariq.
"As part of our commitment to make a positive contribution to the region, FRV have established the Winton Solar Farm Community Grants Program. Grants will support local initiatives and projects that benefit the community in the key areas of:
Up to $20,000 funding is available for eligible local organisations.
Applications are now open and close Friday 9th October. For further information and a copy of the Application Form, please visit the Community Page of our website.
FRV is proud to be able to make this positive contribution to the local community. I look forward to sharing the outcomes of this year’s Grants Program with you later this year.
The Local Power Plan - a blueprint to reboot the economy of regional Australia with locally-owned community energy
On Wednesday 23 September Helen Haines MP, Independent Federal Member for Indi, launched the Local Power Plan – a blueprint to reboot the economy of regional Australia with locally-owned community energy.
"The Local Power Plan is the culmination of a six-month community co-design process. We invited Australians from all backgrounds to have a say in the role of renewables in regional Australia.
And the message we heard was clear: people are excited about the potential of renewables to bring new jobs and opportunities, and of course, clean and cheap power. But we need a way to ensure that everyday people can benefit from the boom that is already happening.
This is where the Local Power Plan comes in.
Our plan proposes the creation of a new Australian Local Power Agency to deliver three innovative schemes:
In Australia, we are facing some of our toughest economic conditions ever. The time is right to make transformational investments in Australia, and especially in regional Australia.
By bringing cheap, clean power to the regions, spurring a new wave of local employment, and creating new sources of income that will last for decades, the Local Power Plan is one opportunity to reboot our regional economy with community energy."
The Webinar of the launch was most informative, with speakers from community power advocates from Mansfield, Euroa, .... in Indi; from ..... and with ....a most inspiring presentation by the person chosen to launch the plan, ....... who wrote ....... .
To turn the plan into reality, work needs to be done by those sharing the vision of a generation of prosperity fuelled by cheap, clean, local power, to get the Government to commit $483 million over 10 years. What can be done? While we don't need to contact our Federal MP to support the Local Power Plan, as Helen Haines has inspired and working actively to support it; however we could continue to work with our local council about supporting local renewables projects and get involved with Renewable Energy Benalla, Indigo Power and more.
REB members Kevin Smith, Adrian Howden, Larissa Montgomery, John Lloyd, Frank Dunin and BSFG secretary Peter Maddock met at Rustik, 'between lockdowns', on July 15, 2020.
"Renewable Energy Benalla (REB) was one of the first Zero Carbon Communities supported by Beyond Zero Emissions. This partnership led to the development of a Stationary Energy Transition strategy designed to reduce energy demand, replace with local renewables, and switch to large scale renewables. A few years on local champions led by John Lloyd from the Benalla Sustainable Futures Group and Larissa Montgomery from the Benalla City Council have been working on a wide range of energy projects.
REB was established as an action group of the Benalla Sustainable Future Group in 2016 from self-nominated interested members of the community. Our Vision is for Benalla to become a zero net energy town by reducing and balancing energy demand with 100% renewable energy supply.
REB works in collaboration with the community and relevant organisations to achieve the following objectives:
We are excited about the opportunities for our region and keen to learn from and share skills with other communities with a similar vision. Collaborating with Zero Carbon Communities network and close connections with other community energy and sustainability groups in the region has really helped move things forward.
Please get in touch if you would like to find out more:
Renewable Energy Benalla website
From Beyond Zero Emissions' June Newsletter 2020
Renewable Energy Benalla produces a number of publications which it is keen to disseminate to community members. REB would be most grateful if you could share news of these publications in your networks.
If you would like a copy of one or more of these pamphlets, or are able to disseminate printed copies, please contact Renewable Energy Benalla Member and Benalla Rural City Council's Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Larissa Montgomery on 5760 2614 or Larissa.Montgomery@benalla.vic.gov.au
Could a Solar Garden project be a good future project for REB?
Solar Garden schemes give investors a credit for the value of electricity produced by their patch of the solar garden. The amount credited to each “solar gardener” is determined by the size of their “plot” and the arrangements made with the participating retailer.
The concept is considered a particularly good fit with renters, in that the electricity credits generated by a ‘virtual plot’ of solar panels moves with its owner, if they move house, as long they remain with a participating retailer.
Find out more/Source: Sophie Vorrath, 'Australia's biggest "solar garden" seeks to power 300 homes in NSW Riverina' One Step Off the Grid, April 24, 2020
Hello to friends of Renewable Energy Benalla,
I have previously sent you information about Indigo Power, our local community energy provider.
Some of you may have watched one of the webinars about the launch of Community Energy Hubs and Indigo Power a couple of weeks ago.
If you would like to watch the video of the webinar you can do that here.
Indigo Power is asking people to compare their rates with their current energy retailer. I did that and I was agreeably surprised to find that Indigo Power rates were very competitive.
I have attached a brochure about Indigo Power and the Benalla Community Hub and have copied below further information about joining Indigo Power.
Join the Benalla Community Energy Hub
Electricity generation is the largest driver of climate change and bills take over $160 million out of our region each year. Together we can change that.
We employ local people and will invest half of any profits in renewable energy projects in our communities.
So every time you pay your bill, you’ll be making a difference.
As a customer, you’ll be connected to your community energy hub where you can keep track of the energy generated and shared between you and your neighbours. We’re also building local clean energy generation and storage for extra supply.
Find out more at indigopower.com.au
firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 491 739
Retail energy provided by Indigo Power Services. Indigo Power Services is a trading name of Energy Locals Pty Ltd, ABN 23606408879, a licensed energy retailer.
With meetings at the Benalla Rural City offices cancelled due to COVID-19 regulations, there will be no minutes for March/April. However the following report covers developments since the last minutes.
Virtual tour of Energy Efficient House
Adrian Howden’s son has worked on developing a 'virtual tour' of an energy efficient house.
The basic app is set up and he is now waiting to use material from the presentations last year to develop a 'walk through' highlighting problems and solutions.
John Lloyd has forwarded to Adrian the power point presentations on 'Draught Proofing & Insulation' and 'Lighting & Windows’ that were presented during the 2019 Energy Efficiency sessions. Some slides from these presentations may be able to be used in the 'virtual tour'.
John will make suggestions for future action in relation to Energy Efficiency shortly.
Community Energy Project - Establishing a donation-based fund to install panels on community buildings
1. Participation in a Community Energy workshop webinar & consultations with CORENA
John Lloyd took part in a Community Energy workshop organised by Hume DELWP and the Community Power Agency. The purpose of the workshop was to provide critical feedback and advice about our project. We received a number of helpful suggestions about implementing this project.
As a result of participating in this workshop DELWP have made a $3000 grant available to REB to help implement the project. We believe the best way to use this grant is to employ someone to undertake administrative tasks involved with setting up governance of the fund and to pay for professional development of communication messaging and materials.
In relation to obtaining Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status, which means donations are tax deductable, we were advised that this could take a long time and it was suggested that we should talk to CORENA, who have been conducting a donation based revolving fund for a number of years. CORENA informed us that they did not have DGR status for the first three years of their operation and they suggested that we should not wait to obtain DGR status but should go ahead without it. CORENA also advised that obtaining DGR Status should become easier from July when applications will be handled by the Australian Charities & Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC).
As the Benalla Renewable Energy Fund is a BSFG bank account, BSFG will need to obtain DGR status. John has discussed this with BSFG President, Peter Holmes, who agrees that BSFG will need to do this.
2. Community Energy Efficiency and Solar Grants 2020
Grants of up to $12,500 were available for energy generation and storage projects. There was a very short time frame for applications with only two projects per electorate to be funded and it was based on 'first come first served' principles. John suggested to the North East Regional Pre-school Association (NERPSA) that they would be eligible to apply in their own right. John offered to help them with their application if they decided to apply. NERPSA did not apply as the Indi electorate already had the maximum number of applications.
3. Community Energy Project implementation and Development of a Consultant’s Brief
Community Energy Project working group members have been communicating by email and are working through the steps required to implement this project. A brief is currently being developed for a consultant to undertake the tasks mentioned above.
Request from Geoff Lodge, Goulbourn Valley Community Energy
Geoff Lodge has requested/suggested that REB could be involved in helping GVCE install larger PV systems on factories in Benalla. Follow up with Geoff to be confirmed.
Waste to Energy
Adrian Howden has stepped away from involvement with Plastic Energy and moved to a watching brief to see what they are doing in Australia and where. His suggestion of a plant in Albury/Wodonga seemed to have merit for them, but as to who will be the principal investor remains to be seen. The main project has hit a snag in that the amount to be processed is larger than the plant size they have at present.
Adrian is exploring another approach which requires specific data from EPA, looking at a local plus a specialized operation added to it and considering if it is the type of operation we want and need to achieve an economic outcome. “All this is now a pipe dream in the current economic crisis, but if grasped, the opportunity could be feasible. Time will tell” Adrian.
Preliminary work on Micro Grid Feasibility
Nothing reported this month.
The Community Energy Hub Roadshow event on Tuesday 31st March has unfortunately been cancelled due tothe threat posed by the coronavirus.
Our first priority is the health and safety of our community. We would like to invite you to join a webinar to find out how to get involved in our local Community Energy Hub.
RSVP to join a Community Energy Hub webinar event.
You can join a webinar either on your phone or your computer. You can also RSVP over Facebook and we will post the link to the webinar, https://www.facebook.com/events/211504196740396/
The electricity sector is the single largest driver of climate change and takes more than $160 million out of our region each year. Together, we can change that.
Indigo Power is a locally owned social enterprise and invests half its profits on projects that support renewable energy development in our communities. It is opening up its flagship community energy hub electricity offer across our region.
Community energy hubs allow residents to share renewable energy with neighbours. At the same time, Indigo Power is building local clean energy generation and storage for extra supply, like the Yackandandah community battery – the first of its kind in Australia.
Find a webinar time that suits you and RSVP today.
If you have any questions about how a webinar works, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call Sandy at Indigo Power on 1800 491 739 with any questions.
Renewable Energy Benalla
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Banner - launch of REB's Munro Avenue Pre School 'behind the meter' solar panel installation, May 6 '21