Community Energy 

Everyday people developing, owning and benefiting from renewable energy projects

Community energy offers a model for ensuring that everyday people can access the full benefits of the renewable energy boom that is already underway in regional Australia. When communities are involved in renewable projects, they deliver economical, social and community benefits locally.

This appendix details the benefits of community energy identified through our community co-design process.

 

While there is no universal definition of community energy, in the Local Power Plan, we define it simply as: 'where a community develops, owns or benefits from a renewable energy project.'

 

Different communities will develop community energy projects in different ways. But in essence, community energy is about

building renewables, and making sure everyday people benefit, either through part ownership, or accessing cheap, clean electricity. Everyday Australians have already shown us community energy works.

The appendix details the opportunities to accelerate community energy identified in our community co-design process.

Right now, all across Australia, there are more than 100 community energy groups – organisations made up of everyday people who develop community energy projects.

 

A community energy group might be —

• a group of volunteers raising money to install a solar panel on the local school;

• a social enterprise providing low-interest loans to low-income households to upgrade their energy efficiency;

• a local Landcare or Rotary Club running small projects like installing a small battery in their town; or

• a not-for-profit raising money through donations to finance a business case for a mid-scale solar farm.

For more information visit the Coalition for Community Energy and the Community Power Agency.

Many existing models can serve as templates for other groups to develop their own projects

CASE STUDY

In 2019, Renewable Albury-Wodonga (RAW) raised money to install solar panels on the roofs of 10 social housing units to help the residents save money on their power bills.

 

Philanthropic Model

 

Where a community energy group or individuals donate to install a renewable energy unit (like solar panels) at a host site (like the roof of a local school) with the financial benefit flowing to the host entity.

CASE STUDY

In 2011, the town of Denmark, WA, raised funds locally to develop a small wind farm. The Denmark Community Wind Farm is co-owned by the local community energy group and individuals in town, who receive returns on their investment and access to locally-generated power. Hepburn Wind in Daylesford, Victoria pioneered this model in Australia.

 

Community Investment Model

Where a cooperative or company will raise capital from community members who become investors in a project who then receive dividends.

CASE STUDY

 

The Sapphire Wind Farm in New England NSW, which powers 115,000 homes, generated 150 jobs, was built with a $7.5 million co-investment raised from local people who are now receiving dividends alongside the commercial developer.

 

Co - Investment Model

Where a community group becomes co-investor with a commercial energy developer to deliver an energy project with community involvement.

CASE STUDY

The proposed 21MW GVCE Mooroopna Solar Farm near Shepparton in Victoria that will power over 10,000 homes is being built as a partnership between Greater Shepparton City Council, local social enterprise GV Community Energy Pty Ltd, and Akuo Energy, an international solar developer.

 

Community - Council Partnership

Where a local council becomes co-investor with a commercial energy developer to deliver an energy project with community involvement.

CASE STUDY

Zero Emissions Noosa in Queensland aims to transition the entire town to 100% renewable energy by 2026 through a range of energy efficiency, solar and transport projects.

 

Totally Renewable Towns

Where people identify pathways to transition a town to 100% renewable energy, usually involving several local energy generation and efficiency projects.

Dr Helen Haines 

Independent Federal Member for Indi

117 Murphy Street 

Wangaratta Victoria 3677

03 5721 7077

helen.haines.mp@aph.gov.au

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