That’s a wrap on 2020

It’s finally the end of 2020. While we’ve seen our communities badly affected by bushfire, floods, storms, and a pandemic, more recently we’ve seen huge commitments to transition our economy to a renewable powered future.

As we head into the holidays and look ahead to the New Year, we’d like to share some achievements of CPA and the whole energy sector. Read on for details of:

  • State Governments leading on renewables
  • Our 2020 projects & Opportunities for 2021

Wishing you all happy holidays with friends and family either in person or via phone as the case may be.

From all of us at Community Power Agency,
Kristy, Kim, Ella, Elizabeth, Fran and Jarra.

State Governments leading on Renewables

Towards the end of 2020 we saw a flurry of commitments from state governments across the country. Giving rise to the feeling that we are are reaching a tipping point towards a clean energy future.

There was lots of noise on twitter when these announcements landed which our very own Nicky Ison helped along and summarised by our friends at Environment Victoria below.

  • It started with Queensland announced three Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) with 60GW of projects proposed from the market
  • NSW then announced their landmark $32 billion Renewable Energy Superpower Plan including five Renewable Energy Zones calling for 12GW of renewable energy to be built and an additional 2GW for storage with bipartisan support
  • Victoria came to the party by announcing $1.6 billion for in clean energy and plans to build the biggest battery in the southern hemisphere
  • South Australia set a 500% renewables target by 2050
  • Tasmania is now powered by 100% renewables (along with ACT) as well as announcing their plan to decarbonise their whole electricity and energy system via a 200% renewables target.
  • And we can’t forget the very large renewables projects underway in WA with the Asian Renewable Energy Hub & in the NT with the Sun Cable project.

Additionally there have also announcements from several companies going 100% RE including huge electricity users like Woolworths, Aldi, Telstra and Bunnings.

Our 2020 Projects

This year the Haystacks Solar Garden project has taken a big chunk of our team’s time, with the all the hoop-jumping that comes with an innovative, first of its kind in Australia project. We are finishing up the year on a high with our DA approved and very close to our target of 400 members. We’re also calling out for folks to donate to fund social benefit plots of the solar garden.

Our other work this year encompassed working with Helen Haines’ team to develop the Local Power Plan (stay tuned for more details of our campaign early next year), facilitating a Community Reference Group for UPC Renewables at Uralla, speaking at forums across Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Aotearoa and supporting a bunch of community energy groups toprogress their visions.

Opportunities for 2021

For NSW folks we’re hearing the second round of the Regional Community Energy Fund will be announced early in the year, watch the NSW Government community energy webpage for updates.

All the best for the coming year.

Haystacks Solar Garden Updates

This year the Community Power Agency team has been working hard with Pingala Community Renewables and Komo Energy to pioneer the first large-scale Solar Garden in Australia. It’s shaping up to be groundbreaking in a few key ways.

If we can get it off the ground it will change both the community energy sector and the solar industry in Australia for the better. But we can only do that if we achieve a few things first. Read on to find out how you can help.  

  • Become a Solar Gardener
  • Can your organisation partner with Haystacks for a PPA?
  • Enova joins as partnering electricity retailer
  • We made state-wide TV news!

Become a Solar Gardener

If you live anywhere in NSW you can now join up as a member of the Haystacks Solar Garden Co-op. We’re currently one third of the way to reaching our goal of 400 members by the end of November, we’re aiming to hit this target before we move on to the next phase of making the actual solar plots available to members.

Solar plots are 3kw and expected to be between $4000 to $4200. You’ll receive an on-bill credit each quarter from the sale of electricity from the Solar Garden. Once we have secured the Power Purchase Agreement we’ll have the expected savings each year.

You can read all the details in our disclosure statement on the becoming a member webpage linked in the button below.

Can your organisation partner with Haystacks for a PPA?

If your organisation or one of your affiliates is keen to source its electricity from a project that will fundamentally change the domestic solar market in Australia please review our EOI and return the brief schedule by Tuesday 17 November 5pm.

  • Haystacks Solar Garden will have a 1MW (AC) capacity with an estimated annual yield of 2.7GWh per annum
  • EOI’s are welcomed from both consortiums of smaller organisations to make up the total volume of generation on offer or from larger organisations that require volumes beyond the volume on offer.
  • Ideal organisations would be located in NSW, however other locations will be considered.

Send Kim an email if you are keen to find out more:

Enova joins as the partnering electricity retailer

We are excited to let you all know that Haystacks Solar Garden has teamed up with the community-owned retailer Enova Energy to provide the on-bill credits to Haystacks members.
Enova was chosen as the participating retailer due to their passion and commitment to community renewable energy, excellent customer service and experience in delivering a small-scale solar garden already.

We are also supported by Enova Community in our fundraising initiative – donations will go towards funding social benefit solar plots and supporting the project come to fruition.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Haystacks Solar Garden head to our website and donate here.

We made State-wide TV news

Recently Kristy was interviewed by 9 News about the Haystacks project. Check it out!

Join us on the journey to creating an Australian first, become a Haystacks member.

Until next time enjoy the sunny times,
From all the team at Community Power Agency: Kristy, Kim, Ella, Elizabeth, Fran and Jarra.

PS. Did you see the huge announcement for NSW to become a Renewables Superpower this week?

Opportunities arising in Spring

It’s starting to feel a lot like spring with warmer days, new green leaves sprouting and that lovely time before the end of year rush.

We’re thinking of all our Victorian friends and supporters during their extended lockdown – thanks for helping Australia get on top of COVID-19.

Despite the challenges we are facing, there is much happening in the community energy space. Read on for details about:

  • Solar Garden memberships are open to all of NSW!
  • Regional perspectives on building a stronger economy
  • Fight for Planet A features community energy
  • Community Power Agency in Parliament
  • Grant opportunity – reuse solar panels
  • New research on community energy

Kristy for the Community Power Agency team – Jarra, Fran, Elizabeth, Ella & Kim

Solar Garden open to all NSW residents

We’re excited! The Haystacks Solar Garden project has passed a new milestone in registering the co-operative this week. Kristy and Kim from the Community Power Agency team have been working hard to make this project a reality with more than one major challenge along the way!

Recently the team decided to open up memberships to all of NSW to ensure the project’s success. Right now anyone in NSW can become a member – in fact we need 400 members by the end of October. Then members in the Riverina area will have first option to purchase a solar garden plot, followed by members in the rest of NSW.

Come along to one of the upcoming online info sessions to find out more:

  • Monday 31st August – 6:30pm-7:30pm, NSW wide – Register here
  • Monday 7th September – 5:30pm -6:30pm, NSW wide – Register here
  • Wednesday 9th September – 5:30pm -6:30pm, for Sydney’s Inner West residents – Register here

If you’ve already heard about the project and are ready to become a member, sign up here.

Regional Perspectives on Building a Stronger Economy

Earlier this year Kristy spoke alongside The Next Economy, Farmers for Climate Action and the Transitioning Australia Group at four public forums in regional towns along the Queensland coast.

These community forums along with government and industry roundtables and other consultations were exploring the potential to create new jobs and investment opportunities in a low carbon economy.

They found that regional Queenslanders want to help power the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus catastrophe with new approaches to key industries such as energy, tourism and agriculture.

Read the full report here.

Community Energy featured on ABC Fight for Planet A series

We are delighted that the ABC’s Fight for Planet A series featured community energy in their first episode a few weeks ago. Taryn from Hepburn Wind did us all proud explaining the benefits of community energy and the town of Hepburn’s plan to transition to 100% zero emissions. If you missed them catch up on iView.

Community Power Agency is featured as one of the Community Solutions in the follow-up toolkit and they made a short video about Pingala’s projects and the Haystacks Solar Garden project – have a watch by clicking the image below.

Community Power Agency in Parliament – twice!

We are making waves and being heard at all levels of Government.
At a Federal level Community Power Agency was mentioned in the House of Representatives by Independent MP Zali Steggall in her support of Helen Haines’ motion to support community energy at a national level with the National Community Energy Plan – stay tuned for a campaign we will lead on this in coming months.

In the same week Kristy presented to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the Sustainability of energy supply and resources in NSW. She spoke on how community energy offers a compelling model to capture the immense benefits of renewable energy, including jobs and investment for regional communities, congratulated the NSW Government on their three new Renewable Energy Zones and highlighted the need for significant community engagement to ensure the success of these REZ. Also highlighting that barriers facing the community energy sector can be addressed through Government leadership and policy support.

And at a local government level we are working with the Inner West Council to promote the Haystacks Solar Garden project to Sydney residents.

Grant Opportunity: EPA Circular Solar Trial

With solar PV now gracing our rooftops and fields for several decades, many systems are nearing the end of their expected lifespan, potentially creating a new waste stream. The NSW Government is looking to create closed loop systems for PV and batteries by accelerating the development of high-value recycling technologies and reuse systems.

The NSW Government has created a $10 million fund to reduce landfilling of solar panels and battery systems. Find out more about the program, application process and background information on their website.

Applications close 4pm, Thursday 17 September 2020.

New Community Energy research  

While growing a baby CPA’s Jarra Hicks also authored three new pieces of research on community energy coming out of her PhD.

In the Australiasian Journal of Environmental Management:

  • Generating conditions of strong social support for wind power: insights from community-owned wind energy projects – article here

Two chapters in the Handbook of Diverse Economies by J.K. Gibson-Graham & Kelly Dombroski:

  1. Community enterprise: diverse designs for community-owned energy infrastructure – abstract here
  2. Community finance: marshalling investments for community-owned renewable energy enterprises – abstract here

Until next time here’s a funny video of ALDI negotiating with the sun and wind to power all their stores with 100% renewables!

Mid-winter Newsletter – Unfurling

We are well and truly in the thick of things, learning, exploring and growing our networks, resources and projects both within Community Power Agency and for all the wonderful groups we have the pleasure of connecting with.

  • Learning – new resources for community energy available, some interesting webinars for North Queenslanders and extending our support for Indigenous communities,
  • Exploring – in the Riverina with face-to-face events for the Haystacks Solar Garden project, facilitating a Community Benefit Sharing Initiative and potential new projects,
  • Growing – a grant opportunity and meet our newest, smallest and cutest Community Power Agency fan!

Read on for all the details,

All the best from all of the team at Community Power Agency

– Kristy, Kim, Ella, Elizabeth, Fran, Tom and Jarra

Community Power Hub Resources

If you have been following the three Community Power Hubs in Victoria you’ll know they produced an amazing amount of achievements including 15 community energy projects financed and commissioned which resulted in 1.35MW of renewable energy capacity installed and savings of $364,000 in electricity bills each year.

In fact within the two-year pilot period the program generated more than $14.5 million of value, creating a 13-1 leverage on the government investment for the program. They have now uploaded many of the resources produced at the Hubs to share the learnings with the whole community energy sector – find all the resources here.

Transition Webinars for North Queensland

Our good friends at The Next Economy are hosting a series of public forums to explore the impact that changes to the energy system are having on regional communities across Queensland.

If you’re connected to communities in Townsville or Cairns join the online webinars to learn about the types of energy projects that are happening locally, and what’s needed to ensure a secure, affordable and accessible energy supply. A mapping exercise will be facilitated through groups in a separate break out session to explore new opportunities for their region. Kristy will be speaking at both events giving an overview of changes to the energy sector.

Building a Stronger Economy for Cairns Forum on Friday 31st July: More details and to register here

Townsville Energy Transition Forum on Friday 7th August: More details and to register here

Black Lives Matter

Spurred by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of US police, the past few months has seen the Black Lives Matter movement build rapidly across the world. This topic is just as relevant in Australia with our own racial injustices and police violence toward the First Nations people of this land.

One way Community Power Agency is standing in solidarity with the First Nations people is by Paying the Rent. For this past year we will donate 1% of our surplus to Indigenous led organisations, moving to 1% of our total income from next year.

There are many ways everyone can show your support and solidarity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands people – check out the comprehensive resources The Commons Library has pulled together here.

Solar Gardens for all

This week Kristy and Nigel from Pingala are heading to the Riverina for some in-person community meetings and catch ups with folks we’ve only met over the phone for the Haystacks Solar Garden. If you’re near Narrandera or Wagga Wagga come along to have a chat about the project on Saturday 18th July – more details and to register visit the Haystacks website.

We are also excited to share that Pingala, our project partner for the Haystacks project has started developing a future solar gardens project pipeline. If you or your group are interested in participating in a solar garden and you live outside the Riverina area, let them know via the Pingala website here.

A pioneering community benefit sharing initiative!

The 720MW New England Solar Farm grid connection agreement has been finalised!With this news the feasibility and implementation phase of UPC’s Community Benefit Sharing Initiative (CBSI) is now commencing. Upon community request, we were thrilled to be invited back to Uralla in early July to facilitate the first of a series of workshops with the newly established Community Reference Group to deliver this next phase of the CBSI.
Jarra and Fran had a wonderful time supporting the initial development of the CBSI in 2018 which resulted in an options paper outlining the communities recommendations. Now Ella and Fran are continuing this pioneering project, supporting the feasibility and implementation of the CBSI guided by the options paper and the community reference group.

Grant opportunity for bushfire affected communities

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) is offering grants of up to $25,000 to support local not-for-profit organisations and community groups that are delivering locally led projects and activities to assist people in their recovery as a result of the 2019/2020 bushfires. The program seeks to fund projects including:

  • Community infrastructure and equipment that strengthens volunteer community groups and their activities;
  • Emergency equipment and facilities (excludes individual aid);
  • Mental health and wellbeing; and
  • Rebuilding communities – from infrastructure repairs or upgrades, to governance, capacity building or operational support.

Applications close on 5 August 2020 – head to their website for more information

Our newest fan!

We are sending all our best wishes to Jarra and Jai for the most recent addition to their family – Brinawa Allison Hicks.

He is named after a little tributary to the Ellenborough River near to their home.

All three are doing well at home and we look forward to meeting him soon!

Silver Linings – Autumn Newsletter

As autumn starts to cool into winter and we progress into what feels like months working from home, I’ve noticed a few silver linings.

While the transition to online events makes for less rich and personal connections it does mean many more people can join in the conversation from right across Australia.
(It also means I get to sleep in as I’m not commuting in Sydney!)

Three events coming up for the community energy enthusiasts among you:

  • Have your say on the National Community Energy Plan
  • Gippsland Smart Future Webinar Series
  • Community-scale batteries webinar

Details on how to participate in each are below.

Here’s to using the disruption of COVID19 to build a better future!

Take care,
Kristy & the whole CPAgency team

Helen Haines launches National Community Energy Plan

Independent MP for Indi in Victoria Helen Haines recently launched a National Community Energy Plan – and she wants you and community energy groups across Australia to co-design it.

We know that Australia could be a renewable energy superpower and community energy has significant potential to deliver real benefits particularly to regional Australia creating jobs, income and opportunities.

But it won’t happen without a plan, that’s why we’re supporting Helen Haines and her team to co-design a plan with community energy advocates across Australia.

Have a read of the discussion paper and make a submission.

Participate in the upcoming workshops on:
– Friday 22nd May at 12pm
– Wednesday 3rd June 7pm

Details for submissions and workshops in the Have Your Say Section on the plan website.

Gippsland Smart Future Webinar Series

Thanks to COVID19 what was going to be an in person event has turned into a free webinar series so it’s open to all. Tune in to hear what’s happening in Victoria’s Gippsland region on renewable energy.

Topics include:

  • Local Community Energy Hubs (20th May)
  • Township Models of Community Energy (3rd June)
  • Financing Community Energy Solutions (17th June)
  • Community Energy for Sporting Clubs (1st July)
  • Home Energy Solutions (15th July)

For more information and to register head to their website

Community Scale Batteries webinar

The Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU is doing some timely research on community batteries and they are now teaming up with the Energy Security Board, AusGrid and Total Environment Centre to run a webinar on their findings.
They pose the research questions: What is the potential for community-scale batteries and what is holding us back from these projects taking off.

Find out more in this webinar next week.

Thursday 21st May 9:30am-11am
Register and details here

– Until next time, the Community Power Agency team:

Fran, Tom, Elizabeth, Ella, Kristy and Kim