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

Newsletter – September 2019

Dear Community Energy Enthusiasts,

Green shoots, new growth, a bit of heat and fresh products – that’s what Spring is all about.

  • Green shoots are emerging in Queensland, with a community energy forum being held in Yeppoon on 28 September.
  • We have new growth as Enova expands in to Sydney – meaning they now service the whole of NSW.
  • A bit of heat is in the air with Friends of the Earth partnering with the Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) to ask the Victorian Andrews Government for more support for community energy.
  • And fresh products comes in the form of our very own Jarra Hicks presenting a FREE four part series of webinars for Sustainability Victoria.

Read on for more

from all of us at the (growing) Community Power Agency team!

Jarra, Nicky, Fran, Tom, Ella and Kristy!!

Friends of the Earth and C4CE call for a strong community energy sector in Victoria

Did you know that across the country, there are 105 community energy groups and 50 of these are based in Victoria? That’s why the Coalition 4 Community Energy (C4CE) and Friends of the Earth Melbourne have teamed up to ensure this sector can thrive.

While the federal Coalition buries its head in the sand on climate change, communities are leading on renewable energy at the local level. Since 2015, Victoria’s Andrews Government has shown leadership by encouraging community energy projects through a number of initiatives. But in the absence of a federal energy policy there are many community energy projects in development that do not have the financial or logistical support needed to reach maturity. If Victoria is going to be the leader in community energy, it’s vital the state government provides community energy groups the support they need to succeed.

Join the call by signing up to the petition asking the Andrews Labor government to deliver a plan that will secure Victoria’s place as a community energy leader here!

Are your community energy programs designed to maximise community participation?

Sustainability Victoria invites you to a series of FREE webinars in September and October on how to ensure quality participation in your community-owned energy projects, now and in the future.

Presented by Dr Jarra Hicks from the Community Power Agency, you’ll hear about best practice approaches to community participation based on the latest insights from Sustainability Victoria’s Community Power Hubs pilot program.

This four-webinar series is ideal for community energy groups wanting to ensure future projects are designed and structured to facilitate community participation, or those wanting to create better opportunities for community participation in existing projects.  

Find out more and register for free if you’d like to join us.  More details on each of the webinar sessions can be found in the attached invitation. 

Please forward to your networks and for any enquiries, please contact webinar@cpagency.org.au.

Community Energy Forum in Yeppoon – September 28th

Community Power Agency are partnering with our friends, Energetic Communities and 350 Central Queensland and Capricorn Coast Landcare to hold an introductory workshop on Community Owned Renewable Energy in Yeppoon later this month. The forum will be an opportunity for people of the Capricorn Coast to discuss what actions they can take locally right now to take control of their power supply and energy bills. CPA and Energetic Communities will cover:

  • Types of community energy projects
  • Funding models – Investment, Donation, Renters, Solar Gardens
  • Legal structures
  • Benefits of community energy
  • Community Engagement
  • Existing support networks
  • Case studies of successful projects
  • Potential sites in and around Yeppoon

Numbers are limited so please sign up here now!

Enova expanding to Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong!

Australia’s first community-owned electricity company, Enova Community Energy is about to take its community powered energy model to Sydney, Newcastle & Wollongong.

This means as of 1st October, Enova will be servicing the whole of NSW.

For people based in Sydney, Newcastle & Wollongong, Enova’s waitlist is now open. To celebrate, everyone who goes onto the waitlist to switch to Enova between now and 1 October will go into a draw to win $1,500 worth of ethical electricity from Enova, or a 3-day double pass to the Byron Bay Blues Festival 2020, or other great prizes.

If you’re already an Enova customer, please help them share the good news – and if your friends or family signs up, get them to quote your full name or Enova account number and you’ll receive $25 for each sign up off your next bill

This is a huge milestone for the way energy is done in this country, for Enova and is a great opportunity to support community-powered energy!

Newsletter – April 2019

Dear Community Energy Enthusiasts,

We are off to a flying start this year in the world of Community Renewable Energy!  As the sector continues to grow we have seen some exciting funding announcements made recently and Community Power Agency are energised to get out there and work with partners to ensure the most benefit is realised from these commitments, for both our communities and for the energy transition.

Read on for:

  • Details on the NSW Regional Community Energy grants
  • Our 2017/18 Annual Report
  • Bank Australia grants
  • Policy developments in the sector