ALP’s community energy plan will turbo-charge innovation

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.

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.

Marginal electorate MPs have golden opportunity to boost innovation

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.


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:

The Land – Dairy farmers & solar

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 because 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 own Nicky Ison