Haystacks Solar Garden have announced details of their proto-type Solar Garden Project
The Solar Garden project is aimed at Electricity Customers who want to gain the benefits of Solar PV power but have no suitable roof solar access. This includes renters, apartments and any premises that has its solar access blocked by trees or tall adjacent buildings.
Customer owned behind the meter PV installations will still give the best returns for those who have suitable sites.
Haystacks have set up a part commercially owned (Como Energy Grong-Grong) Solar Farm, 1.5 MW, 4-5 hectare in the Riverina area. Solar Garden members buy a “garden plot share” at $4200 (equivalent cost of a 3kW PV solar set up). 333 garden plot shares are available for sale. Cost of the Solar Farm is about $1.4M, plot sales cover about 34%, the remainder being made up by NSW government funding and Commercial sources. The solar farm output will, at this stage, be sold on the spot market. The chosen site is a high solar output area, low fire and flood risk, and with normal storm and hail insurance and maintenance contracts.
Haystacks have entered into a partnership contract with energy retailer Energy Locals, and all plot owners will need to transfer to them. Plot owners will receive an annual income credit of $505 for 10 years, credited on their electricity bills monthly (just like a feed in rebate, and equivalent of a 3kw PV system). It is expected the credits will be treated as are feed in tariff amounts as far as tax is concerned.
Particularly important is plot owners receive the rebate even when they move (renters), as long as they remain with Energy Locals (every State except WA and NT). Indigo Power also uses Energy Locals as a supplier.
The setting up of the Solar Garden concept has been very protracted (2 years) and complicated – involving a 55-page legal document and NSW government legislation. Plot members are financially protected by means of CCU's - Co-operative Capital Units - which are a type of debenture with preferential rights. Haystacks have a 5-year contract with Energy Locals, with a 3 year renewable option (in case things change and there are better options!)
Garden plots are on sale now, (91 so far), and all 333 must be sold by 30 September for the project to proceed. Construction of the Solar Farm will be completed over Summer, and first repayments May 2023.
Additional costs to plot members include a $50 joining fee, and $1 membership.
As Energy Locals operate in Victoria it would be possible for Victorians to buy in.
This is the first Solar Garden to get up, and it is expected others may evolve using differing arrangements.
19th September 2022
REB had a meeting in early July to try to identify potential community organisations which might benefit from solar installations with similar loan/repayment schemes to that already in place for the 2 kindergartens.
Benalla Men’s Shed was one possible organisation, so a meeting was held on Wednesday 27th July at the Men’s Shed, in order to try to ascertain their power usage (and pattern of power usage) and determine the feasibility of a project there.
The reality is that they operate 3 days per week with not a large amount of power consumption (there is no heating/cooling or hot water system in the building), so the payback period for the loan based on quarterly savings would be far too long to make this a feasible project for us under our current donation-based model for the rotating fund. They also have issues to sort out related to the metering of power on the site in Waller St, as the Lions and Rotary Clubs also have sheds there (both with very minimal power usage).
We may need to broaden our enquiries to look at commercial enterprises, but that has some potential risks around the long-term viability of a business.
Peter Maddock has come across an investigative tool called "Sunulator" which evaluates power use in relation to solar system size and can assess the appropriate size for the situation under consideration. The ATA has developed the Sunulator, and it has been used by the Geelong Sustainability Group to coordinate community renewable energy projects in Geelong (eg 149 kW solar installation at the Multicultural Aged Care building).
Interestingly, GSG uses a community solar investment model.
BSFG and REB member Kevin Smith recently accepted an invitation to meet with representatives of Lochard Energy. a company which has recently submitted a development application to DELWP for a project called Energy Reserve (ER1). ER1 will be a hybrid natural gas and battery station in Winton, approximately 1.8km north east of Winton Motor Raceway (see below image).
Community enquiries can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or alternatively fill out the form on the ER1 Project's webpage: https://www.lochardenergy.com.au/new.../energy-reserve-1/. This webpage is highly recommended to interested readers - it includes an informative video; project brief and FAQ.
Benalla Sustainable Future Group (BSFG) has organised a forum for renters from 7-8pm on Tuesday 14th June, in order to examine the possibility of installing solar systems on your rented property, and energy efficiency measures for your home.
VENUE - Benalla Uniting Church, Meeting Room (opposite Coles supermarket).
Solar Victoria has solar information for renters at www.solar.vic.gov.au/informationforrenters.
Click to Download Flyer with details of the forum, and contact details for RSVP.
Covid lockdowns and restrictions have had a significant impact on the work of Renewable Energy Benalla (REB), particularly in relation to meetings and conducting any workshop activities. Implementing the Benalla Stationary Energy Transition Strategy developed in 2017 with assistance from Beyond Zero Emissions continues to be the major goal of REB. This strategy has the goal of achieving 100% renewables by 2028.
Benalla Community Energy Project
The establishment of the Benalla Community Energy Project working group as a sub group of REB has been very successful. The goal of this working group was to establish a donation based Community Energy Fund, managed as a separate BSFG bank account, which makes interest free loans to community buildings to install solar panels or conduct other energy efficiency measures. Loan repayments by the community group to the fund are based on savings on energy bills. These repayments eventually enable funding of another system and the fund becomes a 'revolving fund'.
The Community Energy Project working group approached two Benalla kindergartens who accepted the offer of interest free loans to install solar panels. Panels were installed at Munro Ave kindergarten in May 2021 and Bernard Briggs kindergarten in late January this year. Grants from the Winton Solar Farm Community Benefit Scheme assisted with funding both these projects. The solar installer, Solargain, made significant in-kind contributions to both projects and have indicated that they are willing to assist REB in future projects. Loan repayments from both kindergartens are rebuilding the balance of the fund. The working group will now work towards identifying potential future projects to fund.
Due to Covid we have been unable to conduct Energy Efficiency workshops during the last two years. While the 2019 workshops were seen to be excellent by those who attended, the number of participants was disappointing.
Improving energy efficiency, and therefore reducing energy use, is a major focus of the Transition Strategy and we need to focus on how to best promote this.
Community Power Hub
A joint initiative from Goulburn Valley Community Energy and Indigo Power has resulted in the establishment of the Hume Community Power Hub. The Victorian government has established a number of such Hubs across the state and has provided them with significant funding. The purpose of the Hume Community Power Hub is to increase the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the Hume Region. In order to do this the Hume Community Power Hub will build the capacity of the North East Community Energy Network and its members.
REB is a member of this network, which is the largest community energy network in Australia. Kevin Smith is the REB/BSFG representative on this group.
BSGF obtained funding from the Hume Community Power Hub to conduct information sessions for landlords about the advantages of installing solar panels on their properties to enable renters to have access to cheaper electricity bills.
Future of REB
REB has been struggling for some time due largely to a lack of active members and the future of REB has been discussed at several REB meetings. The Community Energy Project working group had been meeting independently of REB but in November we held a joint meeting to discuss the future of REB. It was decided that the groups should combine. This should overcome some of the problems that REB has been having.
As a result of the BSFG Review process some new members have joined REB and this should also help.
Renewable Energy Benalla was established as an action group of BSFG in 2017, following a very successful public forum in October 2016 on 'Future Energy for Benalla'. After five years as Convenor this report will be my final involvement with REB as I am moving away from Benalla very shortly.
Renewable Energy Benalla is an action group of the Benalla Sustainable Future Group (BSFG). We invite you to attend BSFG's Annual General Meeting: 7.30 pm Thursday 9th June 2022 at the Benalla Uniting Church Fellowship Room. A report from REB will be presented at the meeting.
Guest Speaker, Dr Lisa Rasmussen, is a Mercy Health clinician and holder of an Environmental Master’s degree. Lisa’s work in reducing the carbon foot print of Mercy Health has resulted in “Caring for People and Planet, Mercy Health’s Strategic Response to Laudato Si”.
Supper will be served at the conclusion of the evening.
On Tuesday May 31st Brad Foletta from Solar Gain spoke to Landlords from Benalla about the benefits of solar for landlords.
Brad presented information about Solar rebates for rental properties from the Solar Victoria website https://www.solar.vic.gov.au/solar-rebates-rental-properties.
To summarise the benefits:
Small scale technology certificates (STC’s) are generated when you install a Solar PV system or Solar hot water (including heat pumps) This incentive works like a rebate giving you:
There is a further Victorian state rebate available that is administered from the Solar Homes Program (Solar Victoria) Upon being deemed eligible you can be approved for:
Victoria Energy Efficiency Certificates: A further ~$1000 of VEECS state “rebate” is available for heat pump hot water units when replacing an electric storage hot water unit in Victoria. With these Solar PV subsidies combined there is an upfront discount of almost $6000 which can take the cost of a good quality 6.6kW solar PV system on a standard type house install down from the $10k mark to just $4k.
For a solar hot water, the cost of a fully installed, good quality iStore heat pump hot water unit is reduced from $4000 to just $2000 if both above mentioned rebates are taken.
Download the Solar for Rentals Fact Sheet.
This meeting was organised by BSFG President Peter Holmes and it was very well attended. There will be another meeting for Tenants on Tuesday June 14th from 7pm-8pm in the Fellowship Room at the Uniting Church in Carrier Street Benalla, opposite the Coles car park.
On 23rd, 24th and 25th May 2022 two of our members completed Voluntary Home Energy Efficiency Advisor training provided by the Hume Community Power Hub, https://www.communitypowerhub.net.au/hume/.
Community Power Hubs provide grants for community groups to install renewable energy and undertake energy audits, https://www.communitypowerhub.net.au/.
Indigo Power https://indigopower.com.au/about-us/, and GV Community Energy https://www.gvce.com.au/ are jointly delivering the Hume Community Power Hub.
Once endorsed our Voluntary members will be able to advise about improving Home Energy Efficiency. We hope to then have a contact form here to use this service.
'Tents to Castles: Building Energy Efficient, Cost Saving Aussie Homes' - Climate Council's Latest Report
This post is a slightly edited version of a post received by email list from the Climate Council, April 21, 2022.
Australia’s historically poor energy efficiency standards mean that many of our homes are like ‘glorified tents’ (1): damp, draughty, ice cold in winter and stifling in summer. This makes them energy guzzlers, highly expensive to run and more polluting than they need to be. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Climate Council’s latest report, Tents to Castles: Building Energy Efficient, Cost-Saving Aussie Homes (2), has found that by increasing the minimum energy efficiency standards for new homes from 6 to 7-Stars, we can dramatically cut household emissions, reduce energy bills, and improve people’s health and wellbeing.
For the first time in 11 years, these minimum standards in the National Construction Code are under review. As we are based in Victoria, our State has already voiced support for implementing a minimum 7-Star energy efficiency rating! You might like to send an email to thank Minister Wynne for his Government voicing support for this update, and encourage the new standards to be enforced from 1 September 2022.
Australians have some of the most expensive energy bills in the world (3), but this report, Tents To Castles, finds that living in a 7-star, all electric house in any capital city in Australia would save occupants $450 on average per year in heating and cooling costs, compared to the current building standard.
Increasing the energy efficiency of our homes doesn’t just make them safer, more comfortable and cheaper to run, it's also a great way to reduce emissions! Adding an extra star to each new home being built in Australia would mean 25% fewer emissions compared to homes at the minimum standard now - the equivalent of taking a car off the road for an entire year for each new home built (4). With 1.1 million homes expected to be built across the country over the next 5 years (5), the sooner we take action, the bigger the impact we can have on Australia’s emission reduction efforts.
Australians deserve far better from our homes, but we need the help of all state and territory governments to realise this. We must show them that Australians want homes that are energy efficient, comfortable and cheaper to run.
The opportunity to update the National Construction Code will not come around again until 2025. State and Territory Ministers are preparing to review these regulations, as part of the Building Ministers’ Forum, so now is the time to make our voices heard. Delaying this action by even another 3 years will lock in higher bills and add 9 million tonnes of emissions this decade - a decision we cannot afford.
P.S. Want to learn more about the benefits of increasing the minimum energy efficiency standard for new homes to 7-Stars? Read the Tents to Castles report here.
(1) Australian houses are just glorified tents in winter, Sydney Morning Herald, June 2015
(2,3,4,5) Tents to Castles: Building energy efficient, cost-saving Aussie homes, Climate Council, April 2022
As many of you know we had an excellent event at Bernard Briggs kindergarten to celebrate the installation of panels. Thank you to Simon Ruppert of the Ensign for providing such good coverage of the event in the Benalla Ensign last week! A copy is included with this post for those who don’t read the Ensign.
I would like to explain how the solar panels came to be installed on Bernard Briggs Kindergarten.
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 with panels installed last May.
We have also been very fortunate to obtain another grant of $5000 from Winton Solar Farm which together with significant contributions from others, including some loan repayments from Munro Ave, enabled us to fund the installation of panels here, at Bernard Briggs, without the need for fund raising.
The system that was installed was a 6.6kW system which will reduce electricity costs for the kindergarten by more than $1500 per year.
Future projects however will require donations from the community. A local business, Rustik Café, has a donations box on the counter in which customers often donate small change. When Rustik heard about this project they decided to donate the money from this box to our project. Their first donation was $135 and they will continue to donate money collected in this way. Thank you to Rustik.
I would now like to thank the people and organisations that have made major contributions to this project.
First, we must once again thank Winton Solar Farm for providing us with a second Community Benefit Grant of $5000 which enabled us to fund our second project. Our thanks to Erin McPherson, who is representing Winton Solar Farm here today,
I also need to thank Brad Foletta, the Manager at Solargain Wangaratta, for the significant in-kind contribution to the installation costs of the panels. Unfortunately, Brad is unable to attend today because he has contracted Covid. Blake Smith, the Marketing Manager for Solargain, is here in his place.
This was a difficult job with a steep roof and very old fragile terracotta tiles, but the team from Solargain did a quality job.
Without the contributions and support from these people we would not be here today celebrating this event.
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.
In February last year, Helen tabled in Parliament her private member's bill, the Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021, which would encourage investment in community owned energy in regional areas, which would allow ordinary Australians to share in the benefits of the renewable energy boom.
Given Helen's interest in this area we felt it was highly appropriate to ask her to be our key-note speaker.
Finally, can I thank you all for attending our ceremony today and once again a special thankyou to all those who have contributed to this project. I would especially like to thank Lisa Mim for her cooperation in allowing us to conduct this ceremony at the kindergarten today.
Renewable Energy Benalla/Benalla Community Energy Project Convenor
25 February 2022
On Friday afternoon 25th February, Benalla Community Energy Project's Solar Panel Installation at Bernard Brigg's Kindergarten was officially launched by Helen Haines MP. Helen's passion for community renewable energy is demonstrated continually in communities throughout her Indigo Electorate.
BSFG President Peter Holmes also took the opportunity to thank John Lloyd, former BSFG President and retiring Renewable Energy Benalla/Benalla Community Energy Project convenor, for his tireless work in promoting renewable energy in our community. Thank you, John!
Renewable Energy Benalla received advice from Winton Solar Farm on 24th December that our application for funds in this round was successful. A great Christmas present!
Underwritten by BSFG until the Winton Solar Farm grant is received, the solar panels for Bernard Briggs Pre School were installed in late January while there were no children there.
The preschool joins Munro Avenue Pre School in becoming the recipient of a repayable loan from the Benalla Community Energy Project which covers the up front costs normally involved with solar panel installation and/or energy efficiency upgrades.
More details in future posts!
Things have been very quiet since our joint meeting in November.
The loan agreement document has been sent to the manager of NERPSA for completion of the loan request for panels for Bernard Briggs kindergarten. This includes details of the system to be installed and the loan required. Details of the estimated savings and the suggested quarterly repayment of $350 have also been sent, with the fist quarterly repayment on April 1.
The panels will be installed allowing time to hear from Winton Solar Farm about our grant application. If the grant is late, or we are unsuccessful, BSFG will underwrite the loan. Once I know about the installation date and switching the system on, I will let you know.
Our next meeting will probably be in later January, once we have heard back from BSFG about any changes in relation to action groups.
Today I received a Christmas card from Helen Haines addressed to ‘John and all at REB’, wishing us all a joyous festive season.
Can I add my wishes to everyone for a great Christmas and a healthy and safe 2022.
Members of the Benalla Community Energy Project, a working group of Renewable Energy Benalla, attended the meeting of Renewable Energy Benalla on Monday 15 November where it was agreed that the two groups should combine and act as one action group. Thank you to BCEP members for attending the meeting, which led to some positive results.
The minutes of November's meeting are included below. I have previously forwarded to Peter Holmes, BSFG President, the section of the minutes that relate to issues to discuss with BSFG, and David Blore has also met with him to discuss these issues.
As recorded in the minutes, Benalla Community Energy Project (BCEP) is currently in the process of installing solar panels on Bernard Briggs kindergarten. We work with the North East Regional Pre-School association (NERPSA) who manage the kindergarten and they are who BSFG makes the loan to, to pay for the installation. The estimated savings they should make with the installation of the panels suggests a quarterly repayment of $350.
In relation to the next meeting, we will need to wait until BSFG has come to some decision about the issues we have raised with them.
-The next REB meeting is at 5pm next Monday 15th November at the Uniting Church meeting room.
The minutes of the October meeting, an agenda for next Monday and my report to the BSFG committee following our discussions about the future of REB have been emailed to REB members and are available below*.
Our discussions included recommending a change of name from REB to Community Energy Benalla, while noting potential conflict with the Benalla Community Energy Project (BCEP) and a concern that BCEP seem to be quite separate to REB, when in fact it is actually a sub-committee.
These issues were discussed at a recent meeting of the BCEP working group. As a result of these discussions/questions I have invited members of the group to attend the REB meeting on Monday to sort out these matters. This will be an important part of discussing the future of REB.
Renewable Energy Benalla Action Group
Minutes of October Meeting
Report on the future of REB to BSFG Executive October 26 2015 .
Innovations and emerging technologies in energy efficiency and renewable energy around the home and workplace are becoming increasingly accessible. What energy innovations can we harness in our communities?
Join Sustainable Upper Ovens and the Hume Community Power Hub to learn more about emerging technologies and supportive programs being rolled out across the Hume Region at a Zoom webinar n Monday 22 November from 8 to 9 pm.
RSVP - https://indigopower.com.au/energyevent/#accordion
Presenters include: Dennis Lambert (Sustainable Upper Ovens), Matthew Charles-Jones (Mondo) and Heath Shakespeare (Indigo Power).
Further Information: Hume Community Power Hub Ph. 0435 256 914
Report to BSFG Committee - 26 October 2021
Renewable Energy Benalla (REB) has been struggling for some time to achieve some of its goals. We have recently had discussions about the future of REB. While these discussions about how the group will operate will continue for some time we believe we need to inform the BSFG committee of some proposals for change.
Renewable Energy Benalla is a very broad title and could evoke the notion of direct marketing of renewables rather than the social/community goal of promoting the adoption of renewable energy across the Benalla community.
We are proposing that the title be changed to Community Energy Benalla as that better reflects the community focus.
However there is the issue of possible confusion with the Benalla Community Energy Project.
Considerations for Future Operations of the Group
Benalla Stationary Energy Transition Strategy
The focus of this document is to reduce stationary energy emissions to zero by achieving 100% renewable energy within 10 years. The document outlines three key steps to achieving this:
We are currently investigating a Solar Garden proposal which fits within the Replace with local renewables strategy.
The Benalla Community Energy Project (solar panels or energy upgrades) does focus on Replace but may also focus on Reduce if future projects are to do with improving energy efficiency.
Reduce and Replace strategies could be within the resources of Community Energy Benalla.
Switch to Utility Scale would be beyond the resources of CEB without major involvement from the council.
The goal of Switch would be to have a solar farm built to provide energy directly into the Benalla grid.
A local example is where Wangaratta Council invited a developer to build a solar farm to provide power to the industrial estate. This attracted industries to Wangaratta to benefit from cheaper renewable energy.
Could Benalla council be encouraged to do that for Enterprise Park?
Reduce energy demand through better building and energy efficiency
REB has conducted Energy Efficiency workshops in the past however the numbers attending the most recent workshops were disappointing. This is one of the key steps in reducing emissions and should continue to be part of the work of Community Energy Benalla.
There are many resources on the internet about retrofitting existing houses to make them more energy efficient and reduce energy bills. Possibly CEB could focus on directing people to these resources through website and social media?
Another possibility could be to conduct a forum focussed on people having problems paying their electricity bills.
Energy Efficiency Awards
In 2016 and 2018 BSFG and SunReal sponsored the Environmentally Sustainable Business Award as part of the Benalla Business Network "Business Excellence Awards". While it appears that BBN may not continue with these awards they may be interested in supporting an Energy Efficiency Award, obviously for businesses.
While it is obvious that some sort of sponsorship would be needed we believe it may be something worth pursuing, particularly with the focus on businesses. Sustainability Victoria assisted with the judging of the business awards and they may be able assist again.
Such awards may be best initiated by BSFG rather than CEB.
A major issue for Community Energy Benalla will be one of leadership as I will be moving away from Benalla in the near future.
A reminder that our next meeting is on Monday 18th October at 5pm at the Uniting Church rooms.
The Minutes of the September 13 2021 Meeting, together with Information about the Hume Community Power Hub and Project EDGE discussed at this meeting, are attached.
Later in September John Lloyd presented the Renewable Energy Benalla Report to BSFG's General Meeting, also recommended reading .
The Agenda for 18th September meeting will be available shortly.
New members welcome.
A reminder that our next meeting is on Monday 13th September at 5pm. With the lifting of the lockdown it seems that we might be able to meet face-to-face. I have booked the Uniting Church rooms and hope that we can actually meet.
The Minutes of the July 13 2021 meeting, together with Information about the Hume Community Power Hub and Project EDGE are now available, along with the Agenda for 13th September meeting.
New members welcome.
Project EDGE is a Hume region focused virtual power plant, with partners including a suite of residents and businesses for 10 Councils across the Hume. The program is being led by AEMO, AusNet Services and Mondo, supported with funding from ARENA.
EDGE will subsidise batteries for residents and businesses, and with the goal of using these batteries for timed discharges to both meet owner needs, but also test services for the network and market. All with the specific plan to transition our network and the electricity market to clean energy – to be dynamic and two-way.
Project EDGE is occurring in three phases:
● Hume 1 – Yack and Beechworth Underway with 49 homes with batteries
● Hume 2 – Strathbogie, Due to commence trials in April 2022 with at least: 20 homes and 14 businesses, and
● Hume 3 – Across the Hume (sadly not including Shepparton/Moira***) To commence in
September 2022 and conclude in March 2023.
Mondo is keen to work alongside community energy groups to advance both their aspirations as well broader market and network reformation. Please contact Matthew Charles-Jones if you wish to learn more at email@example.com
REB will be discussing Project EDGE at its meeting on Monday 13 September 2021 at 5 pm in the Uniting Church. All Welcome.
As part of the Benalla Sustainable Future Group and Renewable Energy Benalla, the Benalla Community Energy Project has established a revolving fund, sourced from donations, to install solar panels and other energy-saving projects on community facilities in and around Benalla.
Our first project was the installation of solar panels at Munro Avenue Preschool launched in early May 2021. Our next project will be solar panels on the Bernard Briggs Kindergarten in Benalla.
To make a donation through Paypal or using your credit card, click on the donate button:
To make a donation through your bank:
BSB : 633-00
Reference with your name and email your details to us.
Thank you for your support.
John Lloyd, David Blore, Patricia Brookes, Karen Nankervis
Benalla Community Energy Project Working Group
Please contact us if you would like to find out more
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Banner - launch of REB's Munro Avenue Pre School 'behind the meter' solar panel installation, May 6 '21