The Victorian Government has committed $900,000 to develop Community Power Hubs in Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley which will help community groups access the legal and technical skills needed to build and run their own renewable energy projects.
Community Power Agency director Nicky Ison said the announcement will supercharge the sector.
“Many Victorian neighbours are banding together and investing their time and money to create renewable energy projects in their community. They need all the support they can get from all levels of government and that includes updating our outdated energy rules and regulations that are getting in their way,” Ison said.
“The Victorian government’s Community Power Hubs program has the potential to unlock profits, jobs and investment in renewable energy and ensure they stay in local communities.”
There are more than 50 community power projects running across Australia and more than 90 groups developing projects including solar-powered breweries and dairy farms, bio-energy hubs, farmer wind co-ops and energy efficiency programs.
A third of these are based in Victoria, including:
- Australia’s flagship community energy project Hepburn Wind (pictured above) – a two-turbine, cooperatively owned wind farm near Daylesford in central Victoria.
- Bendigo Sustainability Group, which is working to install four solar systems on council buildings.
- Renewable Newstead, a small town that wants to power itself with 100% renewable energy.
- Totally Renewable Yackandandah, which is creating its own “mini grid” to allow residents to share solar power.
“Poll after poll has found that Australians love renewable energy and that popularity is even higher when it comes to community-owned projects. Communities want to regain control of their electricity use,” Ison said.
The commitment by the Victorian Government is a good start, she said, but more investment is needed to support communities and volunteers.
“That’s why community energy groups and the Community Power Agency will be working with governments across Australia to establish a network of 50 Energy Hubs,” she said.
“From inner-city Melbourne to rural Victorian towns and everywhere in between there are community energy groups springing up full of volunteers devoting thousands of hours on exciting, innovative projects. It’s time for all governments, at all levels, to catch on and join the party.”