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

Fran, Nicky, Jarra, Tom and Elizabeth
Community Power Agency

NSW Regional Community Energy Fund: Applications Open!

The NSW Government has recently announced $30 million in funding for community renewable energy projects through the Regional Community Energy Fund (RCEF). This is positive news for community energy and indicates that the Government is beginning to recognise and prioritise the benefits of communities participating in the renewable energy transition.

The RCEF will provide grant funding for regional community energy projects that are innovative and/or dispatchable renewable energy and which benefit the local community. These could include solar and wind farms, bioenergy, pumped-hydro or concentrating solar thermal. The fund will support projects that are largely ‘shovel ready’ or in progressed stages of development, so if you have a project based in regional NSW that has a capacity of between 100kW – 5MW, this fund may help you kick-start works. The funding will be awarded as a capital contribution up to 50 per cent of total project costs or $3.5 million, whichever is lower, and can include technology and equipment costs, grid connection and any civil or construction works. Additionally, up to 10% of total funding can be used to support salaries and the development of detailed plans.

The Community Power Agency welcome this announcement and are keen to support organisations across NSW access this important funding which has the potential to see our sector continue to grow. To register your interest, visit the Department’s website and receive your application pack and guidelines. Applications for the first round of funding close on May 3, so don’t delay!  The second round (if all funds are not exhausted during the first round) will close on September 27. All funds must be spent and projects delivered by June 2022.

Annual Report 2017/18

At the Community Power Agency, 2018 was a big year for influencing policy and getting some good wins, for supporting a range of new community energy projects from Alice Springs to Healsville to Cairns, and for publishing ground-breaking research.

As always, our work is possible (and heaps more fun!) because of the collaboration we have had with amazing organisations and people across the country.

Hear more about our impact and achievements for 2017/18, and also our future plans for driving a faster and fairer transition to clean energy, in our latest Annual Report.

Community Renewable Energy Grants from Bank Australia

Do you have a great idea for growing the scale and impact of community energy in Australia? Well, a Bank Australia Community Renewable Energy Grant might be for you.

As one of Australia’s leading ethical banks, Bank Australia already has a good track-record of supporting community energy. This time, however, they’re doing things a bit differently which means you should have a close look to see if an application makes sense for your project.

You no longer need to be a customer of Bank Australia to be eligible and the amount you can apply for has increased from $10K to $25K.

Get moving quick! Applications must be submitted by April 12. See here for more information.

Community Energy Policy Update

Its an exciting time for community energy policy, with the Federal ALP starting to announce sites for Community Power Hubs as part of their $100 million Neighbourhood Renewables Program (a policy that Mark Butler publicly states is Community Power Agency’s policy rebadged with the ALP logo).  

Congratulations to Clean Energy for Eternity in Tathra and the community energy groups on the South Coast of NSW, the six community energy groups in and around Geelong and Barwon and Moreland Energy Foundation who have all seen commitments.

In NSW, the state government has opened the first round of their Regional Community Energy Grant program as detailed above.  A $20 million program to support community energy projects in regional NSW that are larger than 100kWs. 

Meanwhile in Victoria the Community Power Hubs pilot program will wind up by mid-year, we are keen to work with Victorian community energy groups to encourage the Victorian Government to extend and expand this excellent program, in tandem with the Federal ALP commitment. There is already great momentum in this region, with Hepburn Shire now aiming to be a Z-NET town and drawing up their own Transition Plan. Read more from Hepburn Wind on the bold plans taking shape in their community here.

The Greens have also committed nationally to the Solar for All rebate program that we have been advocating for as a key prong in ensuring that all Australian’s can access to clean, renewable energy.  

We look forward to working with community energy groups across Australia to expand the impact and scale of these policy commitments and ensure that these policies help to turbo-charge community energy in Australia.