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
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.
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.
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!
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
email@example.com 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.
While electric systems are the cheapest to buy they are the most expensive to run and are the largest source of climate pollution for most households. Across our region, water heating can be upwards of a third of a household's energy bill. If you’ve got an inefficient hot water system it’s costing you money, and it’s costing the environment.
ENERGY EFFICIENT HOT WATER SYSTEMS
REGIONAL BULK BUY OFFER
Renewable Energy Benalla is partnering with Indigo Power (Community Energy Retailer) to offer two best price energy efficient hot water systems in Benalla.
The two systems being offered are a Reclaim Energy 315 litre CO2 Heat Pump system or an Apricus 315 litre Evacuated Tubes Solar system.
Both of these systems are up to five times more efficient than electric element hot water tanks and will reduce your carbon emissions by up to 80%, as well as significantly reducing your energy bills.
This is part of a regional bulk buy that is being offered through many renewable energy groups across all of north east Victoria and thus has the benefit of cheaper prices for these products
The Victorian government is encouraging people to replace their electric hot water systems with solar hot water or heat pump systems by making a rebate of $1000 available.
By taking advantage of this bulk buy offer you will be able to replace your aging electric hot water system with an energy efficient system at a significantly reduced price.
Because this is a ‘one off ‘ bulk buy, with the suppliers offering significant discounts (approximately 20%) it is only open for a few weeks and this offer will close by Christmas.
More details are available on the flyer below including how to register your interest.
Renewable Energy Benalla
0418 135 330
A reminder about the final session of Renewable Energy Benalla’s 2019 Energy Efficiency workshops which is on tomorrow night 14th October at the Benalla Uniting Church, opposite the Coles car park from 7.30pm until 9.30pm.
This workshop on Energy Monitoring, Solar Power & Batteries will be presented by Kevin Smith. We didn’t get to cover this topic last year so I am also including some people who attended our workshops in 2018.
We will also be mentioning an Energy Efficient Hot water Bulk Buy. Renewable Energy Benalla and Indigo Power are partnering to offer two best price energy efficient hot water systems.
Reclaim Energy CO2 Heat Pump – 315 litre
Standard installation with rebates - $2000 - $2200
Normal price fully installed approx. $4700
Apricus Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water – 315 litre
Standard installation with rebates – $3000
Normal price fully installed approx. $5600
0418 135 330
The Hume Renewable Energy Roadmap was the focus of discussion at BSFG's general meeting on Thursday 26 September.
The Hume Renewable Energy Roadmap has engaged thousands of people from communities, business and government to hear their views and vision for the future of renewable energy in the region.
The Roadmap identifies regional opportunities for renewable energy in Hume which includes a coalition of community energy groups working to deliver localised energy generation and distribution for community benefit.
Hume also has significant pumped hydro energy storage development potential as well as quality solar resources which have been attracting investment interest. Bioenergy resources are also abundant in Hume with a number of biogas generators operating in the region.
The Hume Renewable Energy Roadmap report brings together what the Roadmap team heard and uncovered and tells our region’s renewable energy story – the past, the exciting things happening now and what the future might hold.
Members of a larger meeting audience than usual were clearly interested in finding out more about the Renewable Energy Roadmap and the possibilities for a renewable energy future for our region.
Are your community energy programs designed to maximise community participation? An invitation from Sustainability Victoria:
"Sustainability Victoria invites you to a series of free webinars in September and October on how to ensure quality participation in your community-owned energy projects, now and in the future.
Presented by Dr Jarra Hicks from the Community Power Agency, you’ll hear about best practice approaches to community participation based on the latest insights from Sustainability Victoria’s Community Power Hubs pilot program.
This four-webinar series is ideal for community energy groups wanting to ensure future projects are designed and structured to facilitate community participation, or those wanting to create better opportunities for community participation in existing projects.
Designing community-owned renewable energy projects with strong community participation - Webinars - September-October 2019
Webinar 1: Introduction to designing community owned energy projects with strong community participation. Thursday 19 September 2019, 6:00–7:30 PM
Webinar 2: Facilitating participation through economic arrangements. Thursday 26 September 2019, 6:00–7:30 PM
Webinar 3: Facilitating participation through governance structures. Thursday 3 October 2019, 6:00–7:30 PM
Webinar 4: Facilitating participation through community engagement practices. Thursday 10 October 2019, 6:00–7:30 PM
Find out more and register for free if you’d like to join the webinars. For further enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Strategic Coordinator (Hume) | Regions, Communities & Local Government
M: 0437 038 118 |Ph: 03 8626 8826
www.sustainability.vic.gov.au | follow us @sustainvic "
REB has joined with Beyond Zero Emissions to hold a regional launch of the BZE report Electrifying Industry, which is about how business and manufacturing can move to 100% renewable. Regional businesses Beechworth Brewery and Brown Brothers Winery wil present at the forum.
Some of you may be interested in this forum or may know people in business or manufacturing who may be interested. If so please pass this information on.
If you wish to attend please register through Eventbrite 'Repowering Business with Renewable Energy' by Friday 22nd March.
Install Rooftop Solar...
The Climate Council recently published '8 New Year's Resolutions on Climate Change', in which Resolution # 3 was 'Install rooftop solar, or switch to green energy'
"Two million (and counting) Australians are now harnessing the power of the sun to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution and take control of their power bills by installing rooftop solar. And when paired with battery storage, rooftop solar can deliver clean, reliable, renewable power 24/7".
If you are considering installing rooftop solar, you need to do your homework, and might like to begin with chapter 4 of the Climate Council's climate action toolkit. You may also find Solar 101 - A Beginner's Guide helpful. Purchasing from a reputable supplier is important - word of mouth can be helpful as can information such the suggestions as to good installers provided in the Solar 101 video.
...or purchase green energy?
"Alternatively, if you’re not in a position to purchase solar panels, you could consider making the switch to a clean energy provider, who will purchase renewable energy on your behalf. This is also a great way to bring down greenhouse gas pollution and invest in renewable energy."
There are well established and newly emerging green electricity providers. Some offers relate more directly to the purchase of renewable energy than others which have a greater or lesser component involving carbon offsets. It is important to check out each provider's offer to ensure they are a 'good fit' with the values underpinning your pursuit of green energy options.
The Climate Council recommends check out the Green Electricity Guide for help picking a provider.
Mondo Power's Revised Solar & Battery offer for Benalla closed on 7th December. Renewable Energy Benalla members reported that 24 people requested information about the revised offer at 'A Day in the Gardens' stall on Sunday 11 November, with other people chatting to REB members at street stalls about the offer in the Benalla Bridge Street shopping strip on 23, 24 and 30th November and 1st December.
Whatever the take up of the Mondo offer, conversations about renewable energy with people who in the 'early to late contemplation stages' of moving to renewable energy sources, if not quite ready to decide and take action on this particular offer, are also significant and to be valued.
As you are no doubt aware, there is a positive and powerful transition unfolding across the Australian electricity sector as more people invest in solar panels on their homes and businesses. Renewable Energy Benalla is encouraging this transition locally alongside a vibrant renewable energy sector.
Renewable Energy Benalla (REB) was formed with the specific intent to help Benalla transition to a low-carbon future. REB has worked closely with many local people and with the support of Beyond Zero Emissions, a not-for-profit carbon reduction agency, to develop a strategy for Benalla to transition to 100% renewable energy over the next 10 years.
Across Benalla Rural City 21% of Benalla properties are already experiencing the great benefits of renewable energy, which include;
A wide range of solar systems are available on the market and it is extremely important to scrutinize the quality, performance and durability of various technologies and brands.
REB have been partnering with energy market experts, Mondo Power to offer a solar and battery package to encourage more people to join this transition to clean renewable energy. This revised offer from Mondo Power has a pricing structure which includes the Mondo Ubi, a smart energy monitoring and management device which enables the creation of microgrids. The offer is based on high quality solar systems tailored to match the individual needs of Benalla residents, which includes the Ubi and the ability to integrate a battery system. The attachments provide more detail about the Ubi, microgrids and pricing structure.
This offer is due to end on the 7th of December, 2018, so please submit your ‘expression of interest’ to have an obligation free site-inspection completed at your home: https://mondopower.com.au/benalla/
A further advantage of this current offer is that it coincides with the Victorian government's Solar Home Program which is aimed at installing solar panels on the roofs of thousands of Victorian homes. This scheme offers a 50% rebate for any solar panel system under 10kW, up to a maximum rebate of $2225. More details can be found at the program's website: www.solar.vic.gov.au
REB looks forward to working with the community to help the transition to 100% renewable energy. For more information on how we aim to achieve this please visit our website: www.reb.org.au
Renewable Energy Benalla"
Community Energy Forum Friday 3rd August at BPACC - find out what community energy means for Benalla, & you
New, renewable energies are changing the way we get our energy. We are no longer reliant entirely on power from the big energy generators and companies.
We need to make sure that communities benefit from the renewable energy. The Community Energy model gives local towns and regions power over how they generate and consume electricity.
Join us at a Community Energy Forum on Friday 3rd August at BPACC and find out what community energy means for you and our region.
Locally generated renewable energy will create local jobs, cleaner energy and allow the community to control where their energy comes from. It means that towns can create mini-grids, where residents can trade power between themselves – powered by household solar and battery energy. This reduces reliance on the dirty and expensive national energy grid.
A local community energy retailer is currently being developed to allow towns and regions to achieve their renewable energy goals.
Come along and listen to some of Australia's foremost experts in the field explain how we can harness this new form of energy to build a new model of energy.
Three great speakers will outline what community energy is and how we can benefit from it: Simon Corbell, Victorian Renewable Energy Advocate; Nicky Ison, Co-founder of the Community Power Agency; Alison Rowe, Chief Executive Officer of Moreland Energy Foundation.
This is a free event but please RSVP for the Benalla meeting by 3 August at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/benalla-community-energy-forum-tickets-47537010478
Download the Forum Flyer.
Check out our posts and Facebook to find out more about events - both upcoming and recent - issues and items of interest.
Banner - launch of REB's Munro Avenue Pre School 'behind the meter' solar panel installation, May 6 '21