As our energy system transforms to one based on clean, renewable energy, the policy and regulatory settings of the past must transform too.
That’s why at Community Power Agency, we advocate for policies that make community energy and clean energy access easier and more equitable.
With the support of our collaborators, we have made a significant impact on the growth of community energy. When Community Power Agency was formed in 2011 there were a handful of community energy initiatives. Today, more than 110 groups and 150 projects are operating.
Our unique experience working at the nexus of practical clean energy projects, research and advocacy means we are regularly invited to advise governments, businesses and organisations on policies to support the broader energy transition.
We work closely with governments to develop policies and programs that are both inclusive and sustainable. Our objective is to improve outcomes for all Australians and our environment by setting the agenda and making community energy a priority in the political and social landscape.
Through our communications and determined lobbying, we help to make sure community energy voices are heard. We continue to advance the sector through our projects, our strong media presence and our advocacy achievements. We regularly collaborate with the Coalition for Community Energy, Solar Citizens, Nature Conservation Council NSW and others to build powerful advocacy efforts.
Current advocacy projects
The renewables boom is coming to Australia in a big way, and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that everyone benefits in this transition.
Community Power Hubs are an important solution in enabling everyday people to participate in the renewables revolution by providing on-the-ground advice and capacity building to support communities to get involved in the renewable energy transition in a way that works for them.
We are mobilising our communities to campaign for federal and state governments to establish 50 Community Power Hubs that can deliver tangible, lasting benefits in regional areas across the country.
The Solar For All campaign aims to enable everyone to access the benefits of solar energy, by putting in place state-based Solar For All Packages.
Australians love solar. Unfortunately, 35% of us are still “locked-out”, unable to get the benefits of rooftop solar; because we rent, live in an apartment, have a shady roof or we just can’t afford the upfront cost. The good news is that there is a solution – a Solar Garden.
Research by Community Power Agency and UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures found that Solar Gardens are the way to make sure everyone can access solar – regardless of the barriers they face.
Also known as ‘solar gardens’, Community Solar Banks provide a solution for the third of Australians that are still locked out of the rooftop solar revolution because they rent, live in an apartment or have an inappropriate roof due to shading or other reasons.
These projects offer householders the chance to buy or lease a plot in an off-site solar array, with the electricity generated from their plot sold into the grid and their portion then credited back onto participants’ electricity bills via a partnership with an energy retailer.
Community energy projects such as solar gardens play a critical role in the transition to renewable energy not just in terms of megawatt capacity but also in a way that is socially inclusive, creates social licence and stimulates meaningful regional economic development.
Community Power Agency has been pioneering the solar garden model in Australia since 2018 with ARENA-funded research in partnership with University of Technology Sydney. Since determining the model was desirable and feasible, we’ve partnered with Pingala and Komo Energy to develop Australia’s first large-scale pilot project, the Haystacks Solar Garden.
With the Federal Labor Government’s first budget including a four year, $102.2m commitment to fund a Community solar banks program as part of their promised Powering Australia Plan, we’ll continue to stay at the forefront of bringing this exciting model of renewable energy ownership to more communities around the country.
Past advocacy projects
Imagine a sunbelt of 10,000 locally-owned renewable power stations stretching right across the country, bringing new jobs, new opportunities and an infinite supply of cheap, clean, local power to Australia.
That’s the vision of the Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines’ bold Local Power Plan, informed by wide consultation of the community energy sector. The Repower Our Communities campaign is a partnership with Farmers for Climate Action, campaigning to win 50 Community Power Hubs – one of the Local Power Plan’s main goals.
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.
That’s why we have partnered with the Coalition 4 Community Energy (C4CE) and Friends of the Earth Melbourne – Yes2Renewables, as well as several grassroots renewable energy groups to call on the Andrews Government to Lead on Community Energy.
The Smart Energy Communities campaign aims to turbo-charge clean energy across Australia, by putting in place a decade-long support program.
In 2016, Community Power Agency developed the Smart Energy Communities policy. Like Landcare for clean energy, this policy would support 50 Community Power Hubs across the country, provide grant funding for community energy groups and fund a capacity building network to ensure communities in Far North Queensland can learn from those in WA and Sydney and vice versa.
Since then we have worked with community energy groups and NGOs across Australia to advocate for the Smart Energy Communities policy. The Victorian and NSW Governments have both adopted versions of our policy, while the federal ALP, Greens and independents have made policy commitments.
Community Power Agency was proud to launch the Repower Australia Plan in 2018. The plan was launched by CPA’s Founding Director Nicky Ison with world-renowned climate advocate Bill McKibbin and in partnership with some of Australia’s leading climate organisations – 350.org, Australian Conservation Foundation, Environment Victoria, GetUp!, Solar Citizens and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
Community Power Agency was the lead author of the Repower Australia Plan and co-author of its predecessor, the Homegrown Power Plan. This latest plan illustrates how Australia can achieve 100% renewable power by 2030 by rebooting our failing electricity system, removing the roadblocks holding us back, and investing in the renewables boom.
This project aimed to create the policy settings and regulatory and market context that allows all Australians, no matter their income or living arrangements, to be able to directly benefit from clean energy solutions such as solar PV, storage and energy efficiency.
Renewables for All was an initiative of the Coalition for Community Energy, led by the Community Power Agency and funded by Energy Consumer Australia that aimed to significantly increase access to new energy technologies such as solar PV and battery storage to those customer segments that are currently not able to access them.
Specifically, through this project we are calling on governments to develop programs and support innovation in new social enterprise business models that increase access to clean energy for low-income households, renters, apartment dwellers and homeowners without solar access.
CPA are pleased to have been the founding C4CE Secretariat and involved in uniting the voices of community energy and advocating for the needs of the sector. We also coordinated the first two Community Energy Congress events, inspiring hundreds of community energy advocates.
- Between 2016 & 2018, we advocated for community energy in NSW. This saw the NSW Government establish the $30 million Regional Community Energy Program.
- In 2018 we authored the Repower Australia Plan – a policy blueprint to repower Australia with 100% renewable energy. We were also co-authors on the Homegrown Power Plan.
- In 2019 we ran a pilot Repower Presenters program training people to tell the story of how we create a faster and fairer transition to clean energy.
- In 2016 & 2019 we secured community energy and solar access policy commitments from the Federal ALP, the Greens & independents like Helen Haines in Indi.
- In 2017, we organised the Community Energy Congress, bringing together more than 600 people from across the community energy sector to collaborate, engage and share their experiences and skills.
- In 2017 the Victorian Government adopted our Smart Energy Communities policy trialling three Community Power Hubs in Bendigo, Ballarat and the Latrobe Valley.
- In 2016 we participated in the ACT Government’s Renewable Energy Auction, to ensure communities got a good deal from supported projects.
- In 2014, we worked with a range of stakeholders to pioneer the Coalition for Community Energy which facilitates collaboration amongst its more than 80 member organisations, to grow a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.
We highly recommend Community Power Agency to any other group of community members who are considering establishing a community renewable energy project or who are seeking to improve the capabilities & independence of their existing group.
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