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Smart Energy Communities

Picture it now: your local MP announcing a regional energy hub for your area, funded to the tune of a $1million. A small team of staff (perhaps you or your colleagues, even), on hand to provide advice and support. Start up funding to help new community energy projects get off the ground. A network to link you in with others across the nation. Perhaps a shop front.

This is the vision outlined in Smart Energy Communities: a bold campaign to turbo-charge community renewables and other local energy initiatives across Australia. And this is what we want to win from states, territories and the Federal Government.

Keen to know more about how the Smart Energy Communities program would work, check out:

See below for more information about our current campaigns:

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Turnbull’s Dirty Energy Target

The Bad

You will have seen the Turnbull Government’s announcement that the Federal Coalition is backing away from a Clean Energy Target (CET) and will instead be stumping for a dispatchable energy (read, fossil fuel) target.

This policy proposal is not just a threat to Australia’s national interest, but has the potential to hobble domestic rooftop solar and community solar and wind projects.

The Good

While Turnbull stays in bed with the fossil fuel industry, one federal MP stepped up and showed real leadership. Cathy McGowan, Independent MP for Indi spoke at length about the importance of community energy as part of Australia’s energy future.  She went further than that, introducing amendments to the ARENA & CEFC act to ensure these agencies better support community energy in the future.

What you can do

We need to make sure Government MPs know they’re undermining community energy groups in their electorates and show them what real leadership looks like. There’s nothing that puts the fear into a local MP like negative media, you can put your local Members on notice using the draft media release below. Just edit the template to suit your circumstances, send it off to your local outlets and make sure you let us know if your story gets up!

You can download the template media release below.

TEMPLATE MEDIA RELEASE – LOCAL GROUP CALLS FOR POLITICAL ENERGY LEADERSHIP

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South Australia

South Australia leads the world in renewable energy development, with exciting battery and concentrating solar thermal projects underway and the rapid expansion of wind and solar capacity. There is one area though, where South Australia lags behind the rest of the country (and the rest of the world) – community energy.

Community energy is a tried and tested method of making sure locals benefit from renewable energy development, and in a state with as much going on in the energy space as South Australia, there are lots of opportunities for community participation and co-ownership.

If you want to see South Australia live up to its reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse, let Jay Weatherill, Steven Marshall and Nick Xenophon know you want them to support community energy; we’ve drafted a letter to South Australia’s decision makers for you use below. You can borrow ours direct or edit as you see fit. You can read our South Australian policy briefer here.

 

The Hon. Jay Weatherill MP – Premier
GPO Box 2343, Adelaide, 5001
(08) 8463 3166
cheltenham@parliament.sa.gov.au

Stephen Marshall MP – Leader of the Opposition
90-94 The Parade, Norwood, 5067
(08) 8363 9111
dunstan@parliament.sa.gov.au

Nick Xenophon – Leader of SA-Best
PO Box 3015, Unley SA 5061
(08) 8545 0400
nick.xenophon@sabest.org.au

 

Dear X,

My name is X, I live in X. I am writing to you today to urge you to support the Smart Energy Communities Program.

The South Australian Government has been a strong supporter of renewable energy in recent years. With significant investments in battery technology, concentrating solar thermal and a huge uptake of wind and solar, South Australia is a world leader when it comes to the renewable energy transition.

One area South Australia lags behind other jurisdictions in Australia and the world is community owned renewable energy (CORE). There are now over ninety CORE groups operating around the country (up from five in 2011), giving local people and communities a chance to benefit from a renewable energy future.

This growth is just the beginning. Community power has enormous potential to reduce energy bills, build strong communities, provide network stability and reduce carbon emissions. For community power to flourish, however, it needs a policy framework in place to provide the advice, funding, support and, crucially, the certainty investors and communities are calling out for. The Smart Energy Communities Program provides this framework.

Hundreds of thousands of people all over South Australia are locked out of benefiting from the reduction in energy bills solar can provide. The split-incentives that stop renters and apartment dwellers being able to benefit from solar installation mean some of the most vulnerable people in the state are being left behind. With retailers announcing price increases of almost 20% in 2017, it is more important than ever that these households have access to meaningful ways to reduce their energy bills. Initiatives supported by the Smart Energy Communities Program can provide this access.

Community power has a vitally important role to play in South Australia lowering its emissions in line with international moves to shift towards a less carbon intensive economy. Localised renewable energy projects devolve the economic benefits of renewable energy to communities and keep them there.

I would urge you to give community energy the backing it needs, and take the Smart Energy Communities Policy to the next election. With the right support, community power can play an important part in meeting the South Australian Government’s social, economic and environmental responsibilities.

For more information about the Smart Energy Communities Program and the great reasons the South Australia Government should back it, please visit cpgency.org.au/campaigns.

Yours sincerely, X

 

 

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Tasmania

Tasmania and community energy are a natural fit. Tassie has the tight knit communities, the love of renewable energy and the desire for energy security that makes locally owned renewable projects a no-brainer in the Apple Isle (plus, there’s a fair bit of storage up in them there hills). What is needed to really give locals the confidence and support they need to take charge of their energy future is a policy program designed to help them do just that. Smart Energy Communities is that program.

The CPA team recently visited Tassie in advance of next year’s State Election. We met with energy spokespeople from the Tasmanian Liberal, Labor and Green parties and found a lot of enthusiasm for the prospect of community energy in the state. Community pressure will determine if that enthusiasm becomes an election commitment or not.

If you would like to see Smart Energy Communities get off the ground in Tassie, let the state’s political leaders know at the details below. We’ve drafted a letter for you to use as is or edit as you see fit.

 

The Hon. Guy Barnett MP – Tasmanian Energy Minister

Level 5, 4 Salamanca Place, Hobart, 7000
(03) 6165 7678
guy.barnett@parliament.tas.gov.au

Scott Bacon MP – Tasmanian Labor Energy Spokesperson

353 Main Road, Glenorchy, 7010
(03) 6212 2383
scott.bacon@parliament.tas.gov.au

Rosalie Woodruff MP – Tasmanian Greens’ Energy Spokesperson

7 Franklin Wharf, Hobart, 7000
(03) 6212 2228
rosalie.woodruff@parliament.tas.gov.au

 

Dear X,

My name is X, I live in X. I am writing to you today to urge you to support the Smart Energy Communities Program.

The Tasmanian Government has been a strong supporter of renewable energy for decades. With world beating hydroelectric and wind resources, Tasmania was close to fossil fuel free while the rest of the country was still getting their shoes on.

If Tasmania wants to stay at the forefront of the national energy transition, it is time to embrace the potential of community owned renewable energy (CORE). There are now over ninety CORE groups operating around the country (up from five in 2011), giving local people and communities a chance to benefit from a renewable energy future.

This growth is just the beginning. Community power has enormous potential to reduce energy bills, build strong communities, encourage energy efficiency, provide network stability and reduce carbon emissions. For community power to flourish, however, it needs a policy framework in place to provide the advice, funding, support and, crucially, the certainty investors and communities are calling out for. The Smart Energy Communities Program provides this framework.

Tens of thousands of people all over Tasmania are locked out of benefiting from solar energy. The split-incentives that stop renters and apartment dwellers being able to benefit from solar installation or energy efficiency upgrades mean some of the most vulnerable people in the state are being left behind. With rising wholesale prices, it is more important than ever that these households have access to meaningful ways to reduce their energy bills. Initiatives supported by the Smart Energy Communities Program can provide this access.

Community power has an important role to play in ensuring the benefits of Tasmania’s continued renewable energy development are shared with the communities in which they operate. Local ownership or co-ownership of renewable energy projects devolve the economic benefits of renewable energy to communities and keep them there.

I would urge you to give community energy the backing it needs, and take the Smart Energy Communities Policy to the next election. With the right support, community power can play an important part in meeting the Tasmanian Government’s social, economic and environmental responsibilities.

For more information about the Smart Energy Communities Program and the great reasons the Tasmanian Government should back it, please visit cpgency.org.au/campaigns.

Yours sincerely, X

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New South Wales

State of play

In 2016 thousands of people were involved in the Smart Energy Communities campaign leading up to the Federal Election, when the Federal ALP committed $98.7m to the Smart Energy Communities program. We now have a huge opportunity to make sure community power gets the support and funding it needs to really take off in NSW.

The NSW Government has $1.3b in funding set aside for energy projects in the Climate Fund Plan, with details yet to be announced. Community energy must get its share of the pie. We’re calling on the NSW Government to commit to funding the Smart Energy Community Program (you can read our detailed policy brief on the program here).

Last year community energy groups across NSW made submissions to the NSW Climate Fund, sending a clear message about the support communities wanted from government (you can read ours here). We want to make sure the Government acts on these submissions and delivers for the communities remaking the energy sector all over NSW.

We’ve already had a significant win in Victoria with the creation of three pilot Community Power Hubs in Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley. We can make sure NSW is next but we need your help.

Take action

Community energy has been building huge momentum in NSW as more and more people recognise that it “just makes sense”. Now it’s time for the NSW Government to take the next step and commit to unlocking the enormous potential of the community power sector.

If you want to seethe NSW Government back community energy, you can contact the Energy Minister and his opposition counterpart with the details below:

 

The Hon. Don Harwin MLC

52 Martin Place, Sydney, 2000
(02) 8574 7200
don.harwin@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Adam Searle MLC

Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney, 2000
(02) 9230 2160
adam.searle@parliament.nsw.gov.au

 

My name is X, I live in X.

I am writing to you today to urge you to support the Smart Energy Communities Program with $49.6 million funding over ten years as part of the NSW Climate Fund Plan.

The NSW Government has been a strong supporter of community energy in recent years. Through the Regional Clean Energy Program, the NSW Government has provided invaluable advice and early stage funding for 30 community energy projects to to undertake feasibility and pre-feasibility studies.

As a result of this support and the efforts of dedicated volunteers and community groups all over the state, there are now over 34 community energy groups and over 25 operating community energy projects in NSW. Communities across the state are increasingly coming together to create local, tailored solutions to their energy needs.

These successes are just the beginning. Community power has enormous potential to reduce energy bills, build strong communities, provide network stability and reduce carbon emissions. For community power to flourish, however, it needs a policy framework in place to provide the advice, funding, support and, crucially, the certainty investors and communities are calling out for. The Smart Energy Communities Program provides this framework.

Hundreds of thousands of people all over NSW are locked out of benefiting from the reduction in energy bills solar can provide. The split-incentives that stop renters and apartment dwellers being able to benefit from solar installation mean some of the most vulnerable people in the state are being left behind. With retailers announcing price increases of 20%, it is more important than ever that these households have access to meaningful ways to reduce their energy bills. Initiatives supported by the Smart Energy Communities Program can provide this access.

Community power has a vitally important role to play in NSW lowering its emissions in line with international moves to move towards a less carbon intensive economy. Localised renewable energy projects devolve the economic benefits of renewable energy to communities and keep them there. Community energy builds the social licence required for a successful move to a renewable economy by making people’s lives easier and giving them control over their energy use, lowering consumption and costs.

I would urge you to support community power in Cabinet as the Government discusses the NSW Climate Fund Plan. With the right support, community power can play an important part in meeting the NSW Government’s social, economic and environmental responsibilities.

For more information about the Smart Energy Communities Program and the great reasons the NSW Government should back it, please visit cpagency.org.au/campaigns.

Yours sincerely, X

 

NSW Government Champions for Community Energy

We know there are members of the NSW Cabinet who are enthusiastic supporters of community energy. Now is the time to make sure they take this support to Cabinet. Here’s what a few senior Government MPs have to say on the subject:

 

“We share your passion for community energy… Community energy is really exciting… it shares the benefits of renewables on a local scale… building community support for renewable energy and democratising our energy system”

Rob Stokes MP, Education Minister

“If I can do only one thing – it is to have a genuine peer-to-peer energy scheme operating in this state. I say that because it just makes sense. I mean, duh. This is a way to get the second wave of community interest in PV solar and other renewables happening.”

Adam Marshall MP, Tourism Minister

“I’d like to congratulate the community energy sector on its tremendous development over the past few years, know that you have a friend in the NSW Government”

Ben Franklin MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy

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