Community Power Hubs WIN

Huge news for Victoria – Community Power Hubs

A quick email in light of the recent announcement to expand the government funded Community Power Hubs program in Victoria. What a win!

Exciting times are ahead for community energy projects with this boost of funds and capacity potentially across all regions of the state. We are keen to connect with community energy groups and supportive organisations to ensure these hubs are the best they can be.

We have a lot of experience in the governance space and are happy to offer pro bono group facilitation advice and networking to develop successful collaborations to apply for these Victorian Hubs. Next Thursday we are running a free online session about good collaborative governance, email us for the details.

If you’re a community energy group or other organisation that would like to be involved in one of the Hubs – either to be a Lead Partner, offer your organisation’s support or to add your implementation ready project to a Hub application – please get in touch. See other community energy groups on our community energy map here.

For everyone else not in Victoria – join the campaign to Repower Our Communities – to win Community Power Hubs in every state and territory of Australia!

Here’s to taking the power into our own hands,


For the whole Community Power Agency team – Kim, Ella, Elizabeth, Fran and Jarra.

Webinar recording: How community energy builds resilience and renewables

It’s been a busy few weeks for our team, with a trip to Parliament House and regional Victoria since this webinar two weeks ago. Apologies for the delay in getting this recording of the webinar out to all of you.

The webinar recording can be found on the Community Power Agency website on our webinars page here: How Community Energy builds resilience and renewables.

For those interested in further resources and guides, there are many options:

  • Community Power Agency resources section
    We offer workshops, training and other services to help you to develop your community energy project in line with the vision and context of your community. We regularly work with councils and non-profits also.
  • Coalition for Community Energy knowledge hub
    The C4CE has good resources for various projects on their website. We encourage community energy groups to become members of C4CE.

Thanks again to those who attended the webinar and our presenters: Taryn, Lawrie and Rob. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support or connections for progressing your own energy projects.

Sunny regards,

Kristy for the Community Power Agency team

PS. Check out our latest campaign that we launched in Parliament House last week to ensure the renewables boom benefits everyone and can Repower Our Communities.

Grant op, free webinar and a new campaign

It’s a new year with some exciting opportunities coming our way. I hope you all managed to get a decent break over the holidays to come back rejuvenated for 2021.  

Read on for details of:

  • A new campaign to win national community energy support
  • Our webinar with 3 community energy groups – NEXT WEEK
  • Help regional community orgs access social benefit solar plots
  • Grant opportunity for every Federal electorate

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

Repower Our Communities campaign

This year is shaping up to be an important one. Off the back of Helen Haines’ Local Power Plan we are joining forces with our friends at Farmers for Climate Action to launch a campaign to Repower Our Communities. The goal is to unlock significant national funding and support for community energy groups right across the country.

In a few weeks a group of community energy supporters will head to Parliament House in Canberra for the tabling of the Local Power Plan bill by Independent MP Helen Haines. While we’re there we will meet with key Federal MPs to explain the benefits of community energy and how this legislation will support more projects to flourish.

Sometime in March we will host an online session detailing the plan and how you can add your support. Stay tuned for the details and the campaign website launch. Here’s a sneak preview:

Community Energy Webinar

Next week we’re hosting a panel discussion as part of the National Sustainable Living Festival. We’ll be chatting to three community energy groups:

  • Taryn Lane from Hepburn Wind
  • Lawrence McIntosh from Solar Share
  • Ella Goninan from Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM)

Each group will share what their project has achieved and their key learnings from building renewables in their communities.

Register here to get the Zoom link

Social Benefit Solar Plots

Community Power Agency is working with our partners to create Australia’s first large scale solar garden which will finally allow those locked out of owning solar to share in the benefits of solar too. As the project moves towards construction this year we have set our sights on making sure that as many people can have access to this exciting new way of doing solar.

Haystacks is calling out to everyone in a fundraising campaign to raise $21,000 for five 3kW solar garden plots that can be donated to not-for-profit community groups in the Riverina Region – home of the Haystacks Solar Garden. These solar garden plots will reduce the community group’s electricity bill every year and allow them to focus on their great work rather than rising energy costs.

If you’re passionate about helping bring the Haystacks Solar Garden to life and chipping in – head on over to the Haystacks website where you can make a tax deductible donation today.

Federal Funding – Stronger Communities Grants

This grant is for projects that aim to improve local community participation and contribute to vibrant viable communities – which most community energy projects will meet.

The grants are up to $20,000 per project with $150,000 allocated per federal electorate. You must be invited by your MP to apply, so set up a meeting with your local MP as soon as you can to chat about your ideas.

Due on 22 March 2021. Find out all the details on the government webpage here.

Onwards to a vibrant, clean energy future!

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.

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!