‘Energy Landcare’ to tackle rising energy prices

Read Nicky Ison in The Conversation on why Regional Energy Hubs (aka Community Powerhouses) are so relevant in a time of rising energy prices.

There are so many reasons that Regional Energy Hubs and community energy just makes sense, but they can be a little complex to explain.  This article steps through the reasons why this policy and supporting community energy will help households, communities, locked-out energy consumers and more to access the benefits of clean energy and keep power bills down, while prices go up.

Read here for the full story in The Conversation.

Energy Market Rule Maker rejects real reform

Today the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) rejected a rule change proposal that would have helped unlock new local and community energy projects. In its draft determination AEMC clearly showed that it doesn’t understand what consumers want or what the barriers actually are to mid-scale clean energy projects.

See Community Power Agency’s media release below.

You can also check out the research done by the Institute for Sustainable Futures that accompanies the Rule Change (and was completely ignored by AEMC) here.

Mark Byrne from the Total Environment Centre (one of the rule change proponents) has also whipped up a great article for RenewEconomy

Power users to pay price for slow-moving energy bosses


The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has today effectively blocked community groups, businesses, councils and property developers from building and investing more in renewable energy.

The AEMC ruled out allowing any local business or council to share the solar power it generates on one of its buildings across its other sites, or with its neighbours.

Community Power Agency director Nicky Ison says the retrograde decision will thwart economic development across the country.

“Hundreds of new mid-scale clean energy power projects are effectively blocked as a result of today’s decision from the AEMC,” Ms Ison said.

She says today’s decision will also add to everyone’s power bills.

“It’s a lose, lose situation.”

A Federal Government-funded study has found relaxing the rules around sharing renewable energy could save Australians more than $1billion in cumbersome and unnecessary network upgrades by 2050. Network charges amount to almost half of the average household’s power bill.

Ms Ison says the rule-maker needs to get with the times.

“Our energy system is rapidly modernising but the rule makers are failing to catch up.

“The federal energy minister and his state and territory counterparts must now step in and fix this so it is cheaper and easier for communities and local business to keep building and using more renewable energy.”

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.