This is the Local Power Plan — a plan that ensures everyday regional Australians benefit from renewable energy.
The Plan flows from three simple facts:
• Over the next 30 years, Australia’s entire coal fleet is set to retire and be replaced by renewable energy. In the same period, $1 trillion will be spent in our electricity system.
• The vast bulk of our new renewable energy system will be built in regional Australia, in a sunbelt stretching from Esperance to Gippsland to Cape York.
• Without proper planning, everyday communities in regional Australia will miss out on the benefits of this boom.
Over 8 weeks in 2020, we ran a community co-design process to develop a national plan to unlock the benefits of community energy. This report synthesises the recommendations from 14 workshops with community energy groups in Indi and nationally, and 100 submissions from every state. In this process, we identified five key opportunities to accelerate community energy in Australia:
1. Develop a strategic capital investment program to provide long-term certainty for community energy projects and leverages private investment;
2. Establish local power Hubs in communities across regional Australia to provide technical expertise and support development of community energy projects;
3. Establish a centralised agency to enable better peer-to-peer capacity-building, develop shared resources and provide technical support across communities;
4. Introduce a public underwriting scheme for mid-scale community energy projects need to overcome a failure of the market to fully price their full technical and social benefits;
5. Enable communities to co-invest in large-scale renewable projects by requiring developers to offer co-investment opportunities to locals.
The Plan involves 3 schemes delivered by a new independent statutory body, the Australian Local Power Agency (ALPA).
1. The Local Power Scheme will support communities to develop their own energy projects;
2. The Underwriting New Community Investment Scheme will underwrite mid-scale projects;
3. The Community Renewable Investment Scheme will enable local communities to co-invest in new large-scale projects.
The Local Power Scheme will establish 50 Local Power Hubs across regional Australia to support communities to develop their own renewable energy projects. Each Hub will provide technical and project support to community energy groups, and work with them to access a new $310 million Local Power Fund to provide strategic development capital. Over 10 years, the Local Power Scheme will catalyse thousands of small-scale projects across Australia. View the proposed Hub locations.
The Underwriting New Community Investment (UNCI) Scheme will provide financial certainty to new mid-scale energy generation and storage projects that are at least 51% community-owned. UNCI will unlock billions of dollars of private investment to support communities to build their local energy independence and resilience.
The Community Renewable Investment (CRIS) Scheme will implement a new requirement for any new large-scale renewable developments in Australia to enable local communities to purchase 20% of the project equity. CRIS will enable partnerships between developers and local communities to ensure that communities have the option to invest in projects happening in their area.
The three innovative schemes together empower everyday communities in regional Australia to access the full benefits of the coming boom in renewables.
If implemented, over 10 years, the Local Power Plan would create thousands of small-scale renewable power stations and save millions of dollars in power bills. It will ensure that everyday regional Australians get a fair share of the jobs that will be created in renewable energy this decade. But for this to happen, we need the government to act.
The proposals contained within the Local Power Plan have been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office.
On Wednesday, September 23, the Local Power Plan was officially launched online by Dr Rebecca Huntley, and attended by members of the expert panel, contributors to the co-design process, as well as over 600 people who registered from across the country.
THE NEXT STEP
Later this year, I will introduce to Parliament the Australian Local Power Bill 2020. This Bill will create the ALPA and its three constituent schemes. I’m inviting every Australian who believes in the future of our regions to support the Local Power Plan.
To make the Plan a reality, we need the Bill to pass to become legislation and we need to secure $483 million of government funding to be invested in our regions over 10 years. The time is right to make that investment.
I'm calling on every Australian who wants to capture the opportunities of renewable energy to join the campaign. Let's seize the moment, and together make the #LocalPowerPlan a reality.