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.