Expertise that enables

Introduction to the Australian Energy System Training

Have you wondered what the Finkel Review is all about? Or why gas prices are so high? Or how we could achieve a faster transition to 100% renewables? CPA’s Introduction to the Australian Energy System Trainings could help answer those questions.

In November and December Community Power Agency is running three training events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.  These trainings, kindly supported by a grant from Climate Action Network Australia (CANA), are tailored for campaigners, community sector workers and volunteers working towards the energy transition.

They will provide the participants with a solid understanding of how Australia’s electricity system works, an overview of the technology, policy and economic trends and a history of how we got into the current mess, so we can learn for the future.

The events will run over two half-days and cover the following points and aspects:

  • How the electricity system works in Australia
  • A brief history
  • Who’s who in the energy zoo
  • An overview of energy technologies – costs and trends
  • How we get to 100% renewables
  • An introduction to key energy policies and how they work
  • Talking through key concepts, events and ideas that are in the media e.g. South Australian black-out, what is this inertia thing, pumped hydro/Snowy 2.0 is it a good idea, batteries – what’s the deal, gas prices?

If we are going to achieve a faster and fairer transition to clean energy we need to have more power and a smarter approach to campaigning, policy and practical energy projects and initiatives, informed by what is happening in the energy system and what needs to happen.

REGISTER for an event near you below:


9 November

Friday, 10 November
9:00am – 12:30pm
Register here


14 November

Wednesday, 15 November
9:00am – 12:30pm
Register here


30 November

Friday, 1 December
9:00am – 12:30pm
Register here



Three pilot Community Power Hubs for Victoria

June 19, 2017

Read Nicky Ison’s article about how the Victorian Government’s announcement of three pilot Community Power Hubs is an important step towards helping every community across Australia to have its own wind or solar farm.

The Victorian Government has announced it is piloting three Community Power Hubs in Bendigo, Ballarat and the Latrobe Valley.  It is an important step in the right direction towards seeing the support communities and a range of local actors need to decarbonise, democratise and decentralised our energy system for the benefit of communities and people across Australia. However, more needs to be done to unlock the potential of community energy across Victoria.

Read the full story in One Step Off the Grid here.

‘Energy Landcare’ to tackle rising energy prices

March 08, 2017

Read Nicky Ison in The Conversation on why Regional Energy Hubs (aka Community Powerhouses) are so relevant in a time of rising energy prices.

There are so many reasons that Regional Energy Hubs and community energy just makes sense, but they can be a little complex to explain.  This article steps through the reasons why this policy and supporting community energy will help households, communities, locked-out energy consumers and more to access the benefits of clean energy and keep power bills down, while prices go up.

Read here for the full story in The Conversation.

Energy Market Rule Maker rejects real reform

September 22, 2016

Today the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) rejected a rule change proposal that would have helped unlock new local and community energy projects.  In its draft determination AEMC clearly showed that it doesn’t understand what consumers want or what the barriers actually are to mid-scale clean energy projects.

See Community Power Agency’s media release below.

You can also check out the research done by the Institute for Sustainable Futures that accompanies the Rule Change (and was completely ignored by AEMC) here.

Mark Byrne from the Total Environment Centre (one of the rule change proponents) has also whipped up a great article for RenewEconomy –


Power users to pay price for slow-moving energy bosses 


The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has today effectively blocked community groups, businesses, councils and property developers from building and investing more in renewable energy.

The AEMC ruled out allowing any local business or council to share the solar power it generates on one of its buildings across its other sites, or with its neighbours

Community Power Agency director Nicky Ison says the retrograde decision will thwart economic development across the country.

“Hundreds of new mid-scale clean energy power projects are effectively blocked as a result of today’s decision from the AEMC,” Ms Ison said.

She says today’s decision will also add to everyone’s power bills.

“It’s a lose, lose situation.”

Federal Government-funded study has found relaxing the rules around sharing renewable energy could save Australians more than $1billion in cumbersome and unnecessary network upgrades by 2050. Network charges amount to almost half of the average household’s power bill.

Ms Ison says the rule-maker needs to get with the times.

“Our energy system is rapidly modernising but the rule makers are failing to catch up.

“The federal energy minister and his state and territory counterparts must now step in and fix this so it is cheaper and easier for communities and local business to keep building and using more renewable energy.”

Media inquiries: Zoe Edwards on 0400 144 794 or


ALP’s community energy plan will turbo-charge innovation

June 1, 2016

The ALP has re-committed its policy to foster the development of community renewable energy projects in Australia, a plan it says will allow more regional and suburban communities to regain control of their power costs and supply.

Read about it in RenewEconomy today.
Labor says community renewables hubs to target “areas of most need”, create jobs

SMH also published an article today.
Read more about the ‘Solar revolution’: Labor climate plan warms up to renters, pensioners.

Find ALP’s climate change action plan here.


Community Power Agency welcomes ALP announcement


Community Power Agency has welcomed the ALP’s re-commitment today to spend almost $100 million on creating up to 10 Community Power Hubs across the nation. The Hubs will support the establishment of local renewable programs such as community owned solar and wind, helping to turbo-charge innovation across the country.

Founding Director Nicky Ison said it was clear the ALP had been listening to the community energy sector, which is already leading the transition to a clean energy future, with over 70 groups developing innovative local power projects.

“Community power is a win-win-win. It is good for local economies, the environment, and can help address social issues such as energy affordability,” said Ms Ison.

“The combination of 10 Community Power Hubs and competitive grants will support community energy in Australia to follow in the footsteps of countries like Germany, where 47 per cent of all installed renewables is owned by citizens and communities,” Ms Ison said.

The Community Power Agency (CPA) is leading a new grassroots election campaign, Smart Energy Communities, calling on all political parties to get behind community energy.

The campaign calls on government to kickstart new community energy projects and build a network to offer legal and technical advice.

“It makes good economic sense for all political parties to back community power projects. They help households, small businesses and community services cut their power bills, they help clean up our energy system and they also create much-needed jobs in regional communities.”

“With 24 community energy groups in marginal seats like Page, Corangamite, Brisbane and Gllmore this is a popular policy and a potential vote winner. Marginal electorate MPs have a golden opportunity to boost innovation.”

The ALP’s Community Power Network and Regional Hubs policy draws inspiration from the Community Powerhouses policy outlined in GetUp and Solar Citizens’ Homegrown Power Plan, of which Nicky Ison was a co-author.

The Community Powerhouses policy envisages a network of 50 Community Power Hubs, supporting local energy projects across Australia for a decade.

“We look forward to seeing an extension and scale up of the ALP’s Community Power Network after a successful first four years,” Ms Ison said.

To arrange photos or interviews with Nicky Ison or community groups across the country please contact Sarah on 0420 892 450 or

On ABC News: Green Power – Red Tape

May 27, 2016

We’re on the ABC!


Read also their online story ‘Local renewable energy projects being stifled by red tape, consumer advocates say’

The story also hit the radio and got featured in the ABC Radio PM. Listen to this special Wednesday’s program and the full story on ‘Marginal seats targeted in community renewable energy campaign’.

Marginal electorate MPs have golden opportunity to boost innovation

May 27, 2016

Community energy groups say $1.5 billion worth of investment on offer


Candidates in the federal election could unlock $1.5 billion worth of investment across Australia by supporting community­led clean power projects, advocates say.

Across the country, more than 70 groups are trying to design and build their own renewable energy projects including solar­powered breweries and dairy farms, bioenergy hubs and energy efficiency programs. However, red tape and a lack of legal and technical expertise are in their way.

The Community Power Agency (CPA) is leading a new grassroots election campaign to change all that by securing $140 million over four years to kickstart new community energy projects and build a network of hubs across the country that offer legal and technical advice.

“Communities have great ideas, they just need the support to realise them,” CPA founder Nicky Ison says.

“On average, it takes a community group four years to build a project – that’s too long. Laws and regulations make it too difficult and expensive for communities to invest in themselves. Basically, the energy system favours large companies and fossil fuel power plants over small community groups looking to innovate.”

Ms Ison said modelling showed that for every $1 the next government spent to support community energy, it could unlock up to $17 of community investment. “It makes good economic sense for all political parties to back community power projects. They help households, small businesses and community services cut their power bills, they help clean up our energy system and they also create much­needed jobs in regional communities.”

Ms Ison said Coalition ­held seats including Page and New England in NSW and Corangamite in Victoria stood to benefit the most from such a policy with community energy groups already active.

The Labor party has already committed $98.7m to support community energy and the Greens are expected to announce their community energy policy next week, but the Coalition is yet to make an announcement.

To arrange photos or interviews with Nicky Ison or community groups across the country please contact Dinah on 04225 791 394 or

Turnbull government still missing on community energy

May 23 2016


The Coalition is yet to take up a golden opportunity to unlock billions of dollars worth of innovative clean energy projects, advocates say.

It comes after the Prime Minister pledged $5 million towards grants to help community organisations install solar or solar battery systems.

Renewable energy advocates say it’s an inadequate commitment and more must be done to empower Australians to take control of their power supply.

“If the Coalition was serious about supporting community organisations to access solar they would remove the main barriers that community groups face: red tape, access to legal expertise and early-stage funding. $5 million won’t deliver any of those things,” Community Power Agency’s Nicky Ison says.

“Modelling shows that spending $140 million will unlock up to $1.5 billion worth of community-owned clean power projects that will deliver financial returns back to the community.

“When it comes to innovation and investment, this government still has a way to go to turn talk into action. In contrast, the Labor Party has committed almost $100 million to kickstart community-owned projects and provide support to the groups developing them.”

There are 70 community groups around the country currently trying to build and run their own clean energy projects, including solar and wind farms.

“Community Power Agency will continue to work with community energy groups – 47 of which are in Coalition-held electorates – to secure the support community energy groups need this election,” Ms Ison said.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said community energy projects were essential to making the transition to clean, cheap renewable power a reality.

“If the government was serious about supporting communities, it would provide funding that is necessary to get communities connected to clean power that will save on power bills.

“We would expect far more than $5 million to be pledged to community energy initiatives ahead of the July 2 poll.”

Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes says the quantum of funding announced by the Prime Minister shows that his heart is really not in it.

“After stripping $1.3 billion worth of funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency,  Mr Turnbull has announced $5 million in community solar PV funding,” Mr Grimes said.

“Mr Turnbull, where is the other $1.29bn?”


Media inquiries: Zoe Edwards on 0400 144 794 or

The Land – Dairy farmers & solar

May 19, 2016

When the Land puts it on the front page, every National MP in the country knows about it. Awesome story featuring this campaign, dairy farmers and big solar.

The Land loved this story becuase it brought together real farmers doing smart things with their community to reduce power bills and run modern agriculture. A story this good is wonderful at any time, but during an election campaign it’s gold – and there’s more where this came from!

Read the full story in the Land – featuring our very our Nicky Ison

Win News – Repower shoalhaven

May 17, 2016

Dairy farmers, big solar, community owned, all in a marginal seat – what’s not to like? Great story on Repower Shoalhaven and their third round of investment and renewable energy.

There’s nothing quite like real projects in real places to get people excited about community renewables. Regional TV are often looking for local stories that have a visual element – even just going to the site of where the renewables are planned is often enough. Contact us if you’d like to have a go at getting some TV media for your project.

Guardian – Totally Renewable Yackandandah

May 12, 2016

The fantastic team at Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) got in quickly with this great opinion piece in the Guardian by TRY President Matthew Charles-Jones.

There are so many great aspects of this article, but this quote stood out for me “While policy makers dither and draft lifeless strategies, those outside of the political bubble have no time to waste as they already face the realities of climate change on a daily basis.”

There’s huge power in Community Energy Groups like Totally Renewable Yackandandah sharing their story like this. Of course there’s the readers, but during an election, the local candidates are very much tuned to anything that’s been said by constituents in their electorate.

If you’re a member of a community renewable group, even if you’re just at the start of your journey, consider writing an opinion piece like this for your local paper. When it gets published, send it to all the candidates.

Read the full opinion piece in the Guardian here.

ALP’s climate policy to boost community-led clean energy projects

April 27, 2016

Community energy group welcome Labor’s Community Power policy.


Federal Labor’s climate policy promises to kick-start clean energy projects and boost community access to renewable energy across Australia, the Community Power Agency says.

The ALP has today announced it will spend $98.7 million over four years to develop a Community Power Network as part of the party’s wider Climate and Energy policy package.

Community Power Hubs will provide legal and technical expertise as well as start-up funding to help communities build and run their own clean energy projects.

The Community Power Agency’s Nicky Ison says there are more than 70 community groups across the country already working to create clean energy projects like Hepburn Wind in Victoria and the Nimbin Community Solar Farm in NSW.

“The combination of 10 Community Power Hubs and competitive grants will support community energy in Australia to follow in the footsteps of countries like Germany, where 47 per cent of all installed renewables is owned by citizens and communities,” Ms Ison said.

“Communities play a hugely important leadership role in the transition to clean energy here and around the world.

“Community energy initiatives also play an important part in overcoming market failures that prevent renters, low-income households and apartment dwellers from accessing the benefits of household solar.”

Ms Ison says regional Australia stands to gain the most if the country embraces the global renewable energy boom.

“This policy is also a huge win for regional Australia, as it will support farmer bioenergy projects and help develop new business models that enable regional communities to invest in and directly benefit from large wind and solar farms.  This in turn will ensure a greater share of the renewables investment boom stays circulating in regional and local economies.”

The ALP’s Community Power Network and Regional Hubs policy draws inspiration from the Community Powerhouses policy outlined in GetUp and Solar Citizens’ Homegrown Power Plan, of which Nicky Ison was a co-author.

The Community Powerhouses policy envisages a network of 50 Community Power Hubs, supporting local energy projects across Australia for a decade.

“We look forward to seeing an extension and scale up of the ALP’s Community Power Network after a successful first four years,” Ms Ison said.

For further comment contact: 

Nicky Ison on 0402 0345 80 or or
Zoe Edwards on 0400 144 794 or

Nicky can also provide a list of community clean energy projects already operating as well as connect media to community energy groups such as New England Wind and Totally Renewable Yackandandah (Indi) for an on-the-ground perspective and provide a list of community.

The Community Power Agency is one of the country’s leading community energy organisations. It helps community groups navigate the complex process of setting up a community owned renewable energy.

Please read ALP’s full Climate Change Action Plan here.

Ideas Boom! Community energy and the innovation statement

7 December, 2015

The great disruptive change of the moment is the clean energy transition.  Community energy projects sit at the forefront of innovative new energy business models but they are also social enterprises, aiming to deliver more than just a-profit-to-shareholders outcome.  It’s essential that our governments support innovation and in a way that delivers constructive outcomes for new energy business models as well as for social enterprise.

The release of the Turnbull Government’s innovation statement today is extremely promising and we hope heralds a new era of bi-partisan support for building a future that delivers energy abundance to all Australians.


Tax breaks
We’d like to see the government adopting a broader definition of what constitutes an enterprise or business.  We know that innovation thrives on diversity and so it makes logical sense to think of a definition of enterprise that goes beyond just the one-dimensional view of a profit-making company.  The tax breaks for for start-ups will give many community energy groups a real boost, but for those groups that are co-operatives or associations it’s not clear that they’ll be able to benefit from these changes.

The Government today also included plans to support development of new incubators for sectors with high innovation potential and we’re looking forward to being able to talk further about the huge innovation potential of community energy.  We know from overseas experience that community driven clean energy projects and the contribution they make to the economy can be huge.  In Germany, for example, 46% of their massive clean energy fleet is owned by citizens and communities, who have developed innovative new business models to support the delivery of their projects.  No other sector has the potential to engage millions of Australians in the innovation agenda and the clean energy transition at the same time.

Equity Crowdfunding
The newly introduced bill to relax the rules so that public companies can do equity crowdfunding are a small step in the right direction.  The biggest barrier now remaining is to ensure that the ongoing compliance (costs and administration) are lowered for public companies so that equity crowdfunding actually starts to happen.  Without a lowering of the compliance burden, the No-Fly Zone for community energy projects will remain and we won’t see equity crowdfunding becoming a popular way of raising community investment for clean energy projects.

Community energy will do well with the new innovation agendas being introduced by all sides of politics and today’s announcement from the Turnbull Government is a big step in the right direction.  Further detail needs to be worked through to deliver on these policy statements and the community energy sector is excited at the prospect of working with policy makers and all supporters of innovation to help us realise our vision of a fairer energy system for all Australians.

Tom Nockolds