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 – March 2020

Dear Community Energy Enthusiasts,

What an unprecedented year so far.
2020 started with much uncertainty as many people around Australia battled the threat or reality of the bushfires this summer. Then came the floods in many places and now we’re dealing with the global pandemic of COVID-19 that means we need to physically distance ourselves. In these challenging times, we hope you have virtual connections to keep spirits up.

We will be forging ahead with our work to drive a faster and fairer transition to clean energy in Australia (adjusted for the circumstances) for several reasons. Firstly because that is our purpose, but now more than ever because decentralised renewable energy can deliver economic benefits to regional areas, help our communities to be more resilient in times of extreme weather events and ensure we are more in control of our futures.

Read on for four exciting updates.

– Kristy
And all the Community Power Agency team: Fran, Jarra, Tom, Ella, Elizabeth and Kim!

Funding for Solar Gardens project!

We are very excited to announce that Community Power Agency in joint partnership with Pingala and Komo Energy have been awarded grant funding in the NSW Government Regional Community Energy Fund for a solar garden project.

The Haystacks Solar Garden will see the establishment of a 1MW solar array that will allow approximately 300 “locked out” energy users to access the benefits of solar for the first time. A solar garden is like a community garden but instead of growing veggies members get to harvest their own energy. We have progressing the idea of solar gardens in our fairer for all agenda for a few years now so it is gratifying to see this project secure funding.

It will be in the Riverina on the edge of the small town of Grong Grong. In the coming weeks we will be holding community meetings, get in touch if you live in the Riverina and want to get involved or find out more information.

Our New Staff Member – Kim Mallee

We are very pleased to announce that Kim Mallee has joined the CPA team as our Haystacks Project Manager!

Kim will be working closely with our project partners as well as the communities across the Riverina to help make the first community-owned solar garden in Australia a reality.

She brings with her a wealth of experience from local government and the corporate sector, as well as grassroots community engagement. Kim is based in the beautiful Northern Rivers region and is passionate about sustainability and supporting renewable energy projects that create lasting positive change in our communities.
Welcome Kim!

Jarra taking leave

Our final piece of exciting news is that Jarra Hicks will be having a baby in April and will be taking time off to be with her growing family.

We are thrilled to welcome another addition to the expanding CPA family and wish her and her partner all the best in the coming new adventure.

Congratulations to all the RCEF projects

We are amongst great company in our successful grant application through the Regional Community Energy Fund. In total the program awarded funding to seven projects in NSW which will unlock nearly 17.2MW of electricity generation and up to 17.9MW/39.3MWh of energy storage.

It’s encouraging to see community energy expand in NSW. Congratulations to the other projects:

  • Manilla Community Renewable Energy (photo below)
  • Energise Gloucester
  • Community Energy for Goulburn
  • Orange Community Renewables/ ITP-NHT Dev Co
  • Enova Community Energy Ltd
  • Byron Bay Solar Farm Holdings

All the best for the coming weeks as we all navigate the changed way of our world.
– CPA team.

Newsletter – October 2019

Dear Community Energy Enthusiasts,

Letting go, transitioning and celebrating change as the days get longer – we are well and truly amidst the growth of springtime!

  • Letting go – Yes its true and sad and wonderful at the same time… Nicky Ison is moving on from CPA!
  • Transitioning – Welcoming new members and powering on!
  • Celebrating – The potency of people power with this weeks launch of the #SolarforAll Campaign! 
  • Growing – A new community energy group joins our movement!

Read on for more.

From all of us at the (transitioning, growing and celebrating) Community Power Agency team!

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

Nicky Ison moving on from CPA

It is with sadness that we let you know that one of our founders – Nicky Ison is moving on from Community Power Agency.

However, it is with excitement that we wish her well in her new job with WWF as their new Energy Transition Manager.  Nicky will be leading WWF’s new renewable exports campaign (700% renewables anyone?).

For more than a decade Nicky has worked to grow a vibrant community energy sector.

From five community energy groups when she and Jarra started there are now more than 110 across the country working to democratise our energy system and tell a powerful story of how communities can lead and benefit from acting on climate and shifting to renewables.

We want to thank Nicky for her amazing contribution to Community Power Agency.  Some highlights include:

  • Bringing together 620 people in Melbourne Town Hall for the Community Energy Congress, including 25 Aboriginal leaders to talk about how we drive a faster and fairer transition to clean energy.
  • Writing the Homegrown Power Plan and Repower Australia Plan.
  • Running numerous workshops and speaking at events with communities across the country, including the inaugural events of Totally Renewable Yackandandah, Repower Shoalhaven and most recently Capricorn Coast Community Energy in Yeppoon in Central Queensland.
    Winning community energy policy commitments particularly from the NSW and Victorian Governments. 
  • Pioneering Solar Gardens and launching the Solar for All Campaign this week. 

Check out CPA’s great video for a snapshot of some of the things we’ve achieved over the years.

While Nicky is a big loss, Community Power Agency will continue to kick community energy goals on the ground, with communities, in the media and politically without her.

Should you be interested in energy justice, democratising our energy system, demonstrating how clean energy is the future for communities across this sunburnt country, please get in touch with the CPA team of Jarra, Fran, Tom, Elizabeth, Ella and Kristy.

We’re also pleased that Nicky intends to stay on the board of CPA so is not leaving the community energy movement entirely.