Expertise that enables

Energy Market Rule Maker rejects real reform

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 – http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/energy-market-rule-maker-says-no-to-real-reform-again-68626.

 

Power users to pay price for slow-moving energy bosses 

MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday, September 22, 2016

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 zoe@climatemdiacentre.org.au

               

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Register your interest to work with Community Power Agency

Are you passionate about clean energy? Do you want to be part of growing a vibrant, people powered energy system?

Community Power Agency (CPA) is one of the leading organisations driving the development of Australia’s community energy sector.  At CPA we are privileged to work with community energy groups and organisations across the country.  As a small, dynamic and supportive team we work across community energy innovation, training, policymaking and advocacy.

Community Power Agency is growing and we’re looking for people to help deliver a range of exciting and strategic projects.

We’re going to need to hit the ground running when these projects start.  While that CPA doesn’t have specific jobs open right now, that’s likely to change soon.  We’re inviting you to get in early and register your interest in working with us to grow community energy in Australia. 

Community Power Agency is looking for people who are:

  • Passionate about and committed to community energy
  • An excellent written and verbal communicator
  • Highly organised
  • A self-starter and able to work independently
  • A quick learner
  • Confident and friendly

Specific skillsets that we would find useful in the short-term:

  • Community organising
  • Project management
  • Campaigning
  • Event organising
  • Energy policy

Skillsets we are likely to find useful in the medium- to long-term:

  • Renewable energy engineering/technical know-how
  • Legals, particularly energy contracts and compliance

Does this sound like you? If yes, send us through a CV and a few paragraphs on why you’d like to work with Community Power Agency and your particular areas of interest.

Send your info to info@cpagency.org.au and we’ll be in touch.

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ALP’s community energy plan will turbo-charge innovation

Community Power Agency welcomes ALP announcement

Media release, 1 June 2016

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 sarah@climatemediacentre.org.au

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Community energy in the ABC news

We’re on the ABC TV News!

Fantastic news story here

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

Community energy group welcome Labor’s Community Power policy

MEDIA RELEASE: Wednesday, April 27 2016

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 nicky@cpagency.org.au or
Zoe Edwards on 0400 144 794 or zoe@climatemediacentre.org.au

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.

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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.

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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.

Incubators
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

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