A local group hope they have the answer!

Mid Coast Community Renewables (MCR) is a recently incorporated, inclusive group of enthusiastic local advocates for clean, affordable power in the Manning Valley. 

The recently formed group seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of community-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to move towards energy security and net zero greenhouse gas emissions. MCR aims to attract renewable energy investment to the Mid Coast, share information about its advantages, build community support for renewable energy, and undertake projects to advance renewable energy as a means to develop community strength in the face of future floods and bushfires.

In June interested people came together to hear a presentation by Dr Jarra Hicks, a founding Director of the not-for-profit Community Power Agency started in 2011 which has helped establish over 50 projects country wide giving local communities more control over their energy future. 

Jarra and Stuart Watson (Wauchope Solar) act as mentors to Mid Coast Community Renewables. 

The group was also addressed by Pat Burrows, a representative from the Gloucester community, who shared the inspiring story of how a group of locals created Energise Gloucester, an association with impressive achievements. 

Energise Gloucester Is An Example 

Set up in 2016, with a $10,000 donation from Powershop they installed community-owned solar panels on Gloucester’s Neighbourhood Centre. In need of an extra$22,000 the community donated that amount in 10 days. 

The recipient of the community-owned power pays the same as was paid to its original power provider. The savings made were paid back to investors. The community loan of 22k was repaid in 2.5 yrs. 

Energise Gloucester now has a solar farm project, with a 20 year zero dollar lease agreement over one hectare of land. 

To fund this initiative, three years ago Gloucester received a $460,000 grant from New Regional Community Energy fund, (NRCE).Local people can become directly involved in community energy projects, source information,  develop, own and deliver affordable, efficient renewable energy, while also addressing climate change. In light of recent electricity prices, this is an attractive prospect. 

Mid Coast Community Renewables will have a stall at the next Envirofair and Multicultural Festival at Taree Park. Members of MCR will survey the public at the fair, seeking feedback from the community on renewable energy community-based needs. Survey questions will cover interest in – bulk buys (see below); government grants up to $10,000 to low-income earners; government no-interest loans up to $15,000 towards energy-efficient electric appliances, solar systems, electric cars and EV charging. MCR wants to know if you are interested in a community energy supplier group agreement to gain better feed-in and feed-out tariffs. 

Some models for consideration include community-owned and appropriately scaled solar farms. The 500 KW solar installation being developed by Energise Gloucester, and the one underway in the Goulburn Community are initiatives that enable people who cannot set up roof solar (such as renters and apartment owners) to participate in and benefit from a local community-owned solar farm. They will create additional income stream for the region’s economy, similar to a Credit Union’s distribution of profits, to further social development and engagement. 

Repower Shoalhaven is another successful community organisation benefiting community investors with 22 roof top solar systems on roofs of a bowling club, a dairy, a church and various other businesses and community buildings. TRY (Totally Renewable Yakandandah) has created Indigo Power, installing community- owned solar panels on a repurposed saw mill roof.

Other ideas being considered are cost reducing bulk-buying schemes for energy efficient heat pumps, water heaters,solar panels, reverse cycle air conditioners, electric vehicles and quality home PV system storage batteries, to assist residents’ transition to renewable energy in our region.

As the Federal government’s election promises includedaction on climate change, it is hoped financial support will be more available for Australians and their communities to transition to renewable energy. State and Local governments also offer financial and other support in a variety of forms. Households are the fundamental drivers of renewable energy. Community-owned energy is about people and people’s vision for the future.

Does the Mid Coast region have the level of social support to be enable the transition?

Mid Coast Community Renewables would like to know what engagement you would like with community-owned power, and if you would join us to participate in the local transition to clean, affordable energy.

For more information contact the MCR Secretary

0492 88 6391

(Article supplied by MCR)

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