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about us

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Vision & Mission

Community Power Agency’s vision is for a fair and sustainable energy sector that provides real benefit for more Australians and our environment.

We specialise in supporting community groups to navigate the complex process of setting up a community owned renewable energy (CORE) project. We believe that democratically controlled, decentralised renewable energy projects will bring social, environmental and economic benefits to communities across Australia.

The Community Power Agency’s mission is to help grow a vibrant community renewable energy sector in Australia, through building the capacity of communities on the ground and working collaboratively with other organisations to address systemic barriers facing the sector as a whole.

To achieve these goals, the Community Power Agency engages in three main areas of work:

1.         Supporting and building the capacity of community projects on the ground

2.         Engaging in sector level advocacy, collaboration and development

3.         Developing resources and doing research

 

The Community Power Agency was set up in 2011 by Nicky Ison and Jarra Hicks, after returning from visiting all shapes and sizes of community energy in the UK, Europe, North America and India.  Inspired by the action of other communities, Jarra and Nicky were compelled to help make community energy a reality in Australia.

 

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Our team

Nicky Ison, Founding Director

[B. Eng (Environ) Hons; BA Envtl Studies]

Nicky_website_resized In 2011, Nicky Ison and Jarra Hicks formed Community Power Agency to help grow a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.  Through Community Power Agency, Nicky has worked with and visited over 40 community energy projects in Australia and Europe.  Nicky is also the founder of the new Coalition for Community Energy, which is working to address the barriers to the development of a wider Australian community energy sector. Nicky is an experienced facilitator, having designed and run workshops for government agencies, community groups and private sector organisations in both Australia and the UK. As well as Directing the Community Power Agency, Nicky is on the board of the Solar Citizens Community Campaign and works as a Senior Research Consultant at the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology, Sydney.  Through ISF, Nicky was the lead author of the ARENA funded National Community Energy Strategy and lead organiser of the inaugural Community Energy Congress held in Canberra in June 2014. Nicky holds a double degree in Environmental Engineering and Arts (Environmental Studies) and has spent more than a decade working and volunteering in the community climate sector.

Jarra Hicks, Founding Director

[BA Dev Studies Hons]

Jarra_Hicks_Portrait Jarra has a professional background in community development, campaigning and renewable energy. She studied Development Studies at the University of Newcastle and in 2009 completed Honors research that focused on grassroots renewable energy projects as effective responses to climate change using innovative economic practices.  She is a co-founder and Director of the Community Power Agency, motivated by the power that everyday people are engaging to make real contributions to the sustainability of their communities.  Jarra spent two years as the Project Coordinator of Mount Alexander Community Wind in Central Victoria.  She has also co-founded and worked for a range of community organisations and social enterprises, from food to energy, advocacy to banking and, most recently, helped to found the Coalition for Community Energy. In 2010, 2012 and 2015 Jarra completed study tours of community renewable energy initiatives in North America and Europe and spent time as a volunteer renewable energy policy advisor in Delhi, India.
Jarra is also currently a PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales.  She is researching the potential for community energy projects to contribute positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for regional communities in Australia. Her research focuses on community engagement, social enterprise models and diverse economic arrangements that community energy projects use.
Jarra grew up between regional NSW, the Philippines and Thailand.  Her other life passions involve riding bicycles, growing food gardens, making ceramics and dancing.

Manny Pasqualini, Director

[BA Soc.Sc (Hons); BA Environment; Cert IV SBM]

Manny_Pasqualini_Portrait_resized Manny is an experienced and passionate sustainability strategist and change maker, specialising in community-owned renewable energy, which he sees as a perfect blend of community building, social enterprise and sustainable energy development. Over the past 10 years Manny has worked on diverse projects across the sustainability field; namely conservation, climate, water and environmental management projects in Europe and Latin America. On returning to Melbourne in 2009, he attained bachelor degrees in Environment (Soc.Sc), Social Science (Hons 1), and Cert IV in Small Business Management, all at RMIT University. As Director of Advocacy and Capacity Building, Manny has over the past 12 months played a leading role in advocating for strong and innovative State and Federal government policy support for community energy and other innovative clean energy models, most recently through the Renewables For All project, while overseeing the incorporation and organisational setup of Community Power Agency as a non-distributing co-operative. In his own backyard, Manny is working to drive community solar development at the heart of his hometown as founder of Melbourne Community Power.

Franziska Mey, Director

[Dipl. Political Science, MA Sustainable Regional Development]

Franziska_Mey_Portrait_resized Franziska has a double degree in Political Science (Diploma) and Regional Development (MASc.) from German Universities. Her studies focused on environmental policies and regional sustainable development strategies in European countries. While working at WWF Germany she gained extensive work experience, where she coordinated European and international projects on sustainable regional development.
In 2011 Franziska came to Australia and worked as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consultant for a private company helping to develop social and environmental initiatives. In 2013 she successfully applied for a PhD programme of the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living and became a PhD candidate at UNSW at the Institute of Environmental Studies. Her PhD thesis is about the institutional factors determining community owned renewable energy in Denmark, Germany and Australia. Part of her thesis also covers the role of councils as one of the key institutions for supporting community owned renewable energy projects in Australia. In her current role at CPA she has delivered different research projects e.g. for parts of the National Community Energy Strategy and facilitated community workshops e.g. a business development workshop for Repower Coffs and the South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance to set up new community energy models.

Tom Nockolds, Director

Tom_Nockolds_Portrait_resized Tom has a vision of a future where people share the benefits and the burdens of the world more fairly. He left his corporate career in 2012 to pursue this vision in the community energy sector. Tom has an extensive work history and a strong track record of success in various roles and, prior to his career change, Tom held positions as diverse as business development manager, project manager and operations manager and has university qualifications in project management and a background in engineering. As one of the founding members of Sydney group, Pingala, Tom has helped oversee the continued commitment of a core group of volunteers working to bring community energy projects to the wider Sydney community. Tom has a strong knowledge of the different business models being adopted or considered by community energy groups in Australia and has helped groups navigate their way through the complex technical and regulatory environment.  Tom fundamentally believes in sharing and collaboration and has become an enthusiastic participant in the Coalition for Community Energy – the sector-wide collaboration for the community energy sector in Australia.

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What we offer

Community Power Agency offers:

  • Knowledge of and connections with community energy projects and best-practice case-studies from across the world;
  • Years of experience in group facilitation and community organising;
  • Extensive research into the organisational, technical, economic, environmental and social dimensions of community energy;
  • Sophisticated policy analysis; and
  • Connection to the wider renewable energy and climate change sectors.

The Community Power Agency works alongside grassroots community groups to ensure that their project best meets their shared vision and community’s needs. We run workshops, undertake research, share knowledge and provide context-appropriate advice to help advance your project.

We work to support community groups in two main ways.  We offer either once-off support or ongoing partnerships. We will work with you to develop processes and content that suits your needs.

For more information about what we can do to help your group develop a community renewable energy project download our What We Offer document.

Community Energy Project Inception Workshop

The Inception Workshop can take your group through the process of articulating your shared vision for a community energy project. Through this interactive workshop, the group will develop a vision statement and key objectives to drive their project forward with shared commitment. The workshop also takes the group through a strategic planning process to identify the skills and community resources needed to deliver the project, the key areas of work and the next steps involved. You will end up with a plan to kick start your community energy project.

The workshop will:

  • Articulate the group’s shared vision for what they would like to achieve through the community energy project
  • Build your community’s knowledge about community energy
  • Familiarise your group with the most viable community energy business models in Australia
  • Identify the skills and resources needed, those available and those that need to sourced
  • Establish an initial structure to take the group forward and to assign roles
  • Develop a plan for the next steps toward making the project a reality

Download our Inception Workshop flyer.

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Our work

The Community Power Agency was established in 2011 to support community groups in navigating the complex process of setting up community owned renewable energy (community energy) projects.  We believe that democratically controlled, distributed community energy projects will bring social, environmental and economic benefits to communities across Australia.

We also work to grow a vibrant community energy sector in Australia, through working collaboratively with other organisations to address systemic barriers facing the sector as a whole.

The Community Power Agency engages in three main areas of work:

  1. Supporting and building the capacity of community projects on the ground
  2. Engaging in sector level advocacy, collaboration and development, specifically through our role as Secretariat of the Coalition for Community Energy
  3. Developing resources and doing research

Here’s what we’ve been up to recently…

Supporting Community Energy Projects

We are working with a number of community groups working towards developing exciting community renewables projects. The main groups we are currently working with are Pingala, Mount Alexander Community Renewables, New England Wind, CANWin in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales and a consortium of groups in the Blue Moutains. Watch this space for more projects to come!

EmPower Our City: Community Renewables for Sydney

In March 2013, Community Power Agency put on a forum in Redfern Town Hall entitled Empower our City: Community Renewables for Sydney. The forum was attended by 130 people, with inspiring speeches from Community Power Agency’s Nicky Ison, Embark’s Andy Cavanah-Downes and Muriel Watt from the Australian PV Association and ably MCed by Giles Parkinson from reneweconomy.com.au.

The forum was followed up with a workshop attended by 25 people where one of Sydney’s first community renewable energy groups was formed – Pingala: Community Renewables for Sydney. Pingala is in the process of establishing a community solar project in Sydney. To find out more or get involved contact Pingala Coordinator, Tom – tom.nockolds@gmail.com.

Repower Shoalhaven Launch

Community Power Agency was exciting to be part of the recent launch of Repower Shoalhaven at Nowra Entertainment Centre. Repower Shoalhaven is the brainchild of Chris Cooper, energy Research Consultant at the Institute for Sustainable Futures and Shoalhaven local. The project is one of the most recent in a wave of community solar projects that are popping up across Australia. The launch was attended by over 150 people and was chaired by former ABC news anchor Richard Morecroft. With a huge amount of interest and enthusiasm, the forum went well over time, with many people sticking round afterwards for a chat. See more at http://www.repower.net.au/.

New England Wind

Currently, the Community Power Agency is part of the consortium of groups developing New England Wind, NSW’s first proposed community wind farm. Specifically, the Community Power Agency undertook a study into the different definitions of community and the different organisational models available to the project as part of its pre-feasibility study process.

Southern Highlands

After attending and helping to facilitate a successful energy visioning afternoon for the Southern Highlands, the Community Power Agency along with the Institute for Sustainable Futures and Fresh Energy Consulting will be working with groups in the Southern Highlands to undertake a feasibility study for a community renewables project.

Blue Mountains

At the invitation of Katoomba Climate Action Network and Blue Mountains Transition Towns, the Community Power Agency recently gave a talk and ran a half day community renewable energy project inception workshop for the Blue Mountains community. This process, which was very well attended, has helped initiate a Blue Mountains Community Renewables Project.

Wollongong

In March 2014 CPA was invited by the Climate Action Network to give a talk at Wollongong Aboriginal Community Centre to  inspire the local community about community renewable energy with stories from around the world.

The attendees were really engaged and keen to get involved in setting up their own community energy project. We were happy to see that this community group is joining the emerging sector and committed to set up a community energy project in the city.

 

Working at a sector-level

Renewables for All – C4CE Strategic Initiative

In our new Renewables for All advocacy project we work with state policy makers and key stakeholders to help establish policies that will increase clean energy accessibility and affordability in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.

The first project milestone was the creation of five Discussion Papers, which identified a range of policy mechanisms and business models that would help customers that haven’t been able to access new clean energy technology due to either technically (inappropriate roofs) or financially (low income households) limitations. The presented mechanisms and examples are structured around two key barriers: accessing the benefits of clean energy beyond the bounds of your own home and affordability and ease of repayment.
The second milestone was stakeholder workshop in all the participating states.  The workshops held in the last 10 days, have been extremely well attended with 20-25 people at each workshop.  From the workshops, 3-4 policy and model priorities were identified for each state, these will become the basis of  policy briefs that will be used in advocacy with state policy makers.
The discussion and policy briefing papers can be downloaded here.

The project is a strategic initiative of the Coalition for Community Energy, led by the Community Power Agency and auspiced by Starfish Initiatives. This project was funded by Energy Consumers Australia (www.energyconsumersaustralia.com.au) as part of its grants process for consumer advocacy projects and research projects for the benefit of consumers of electricity and natural gas.

Community Energy Congress 2014

Community Power Agency is working with eight other organisations to initiate the Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE).  C4CE is a true collaboration to grow a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.  It is based on principles of mutual benefit, shared leadership, responsibility and accountability and responsiveness. C4CE applies cutting edge collective impact and collaborative governance processes to the community energy sector. Community Power Agency has and continues to play an essential coordination role for C4CE. At the Community Energy Congress (see below), C4CE will be formally launched and open its membership to organisations who share a vision and active commitment to growing community energy in Australia.  Look out for more information in June about C4CE at www.c4ce.net.au.

Initiating the Coalition for Community Energy

The Community Energy Congress is being held on June 16-17, 2014 in Canberra. The Congress is the first time the emerging community energy sector has come together at a national scale. Community Power Agency is working with eight other organisations to help develop and deliver a program for the Congress that most benefits community energy proponents, policy makers, regional development actors, financers and other interested parties. To find out more and register head to www.c4ce.net.au/congress.

Australian Community Energy Strategy

Community Power Agency is part of the project led by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS and funded by ARENA to develop a National Community Energy Strategy.  This strategy, based on a significant body of research tapping into the status of 38 projects across Australia, proposes a series of objectives and priority initiatives to grow the community energy sector.  It seeks to:

  • Ensure the 45+ community energy projects in development are up and running, benefiting their communities, and
  • Successful models are replicated in communities across Australia.

The strategy includes five priority areas: Capacity Building, Profile Raising, Finance and Funding, Business Models and Policy and Regulatory Reform. Community Power Agency has been leading the development of the Strategy in one of these areas – Capacity Building.  Interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide input into the Draft National Community Energy Strategy on the Tuesday morning (17 June) of the Community Energy Congress.

Resources and Research

We’ve been busy on a ‘A  How-to Guide for Community Owned Renewable Energy’ due to be released in May 2014, along with many great materials.  Please see the resources page of this website for details and links.

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Volunteers

Sally MacAdams, Volunteer

[BA (Hons) Linguistics; MA Environment]

Pic_Sally_website Sally has extensive experience working in community engagement and empowerment for sustainability in both government and grass-roots contexts. Sally worked with regional bodies around Victoria in Community Engagement and Landcare in the former Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment before moving to local government. Currently she’s a Sustainability Officer with an inner-urban Council, where she has worked directly with a range of community groups to help them get their own sustainability projects off the ground. Having specialised in cross-cultural communication in her undergraduate degree, she brings this background to her sustainability work with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Sally is currently researching North American Community Owned Renewable Energy projects with a focus on Indigenous and remote communities.
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