This post is inspired by the community owned energy retailer Enova, from the Northern Rivers area of NSW. Their mission is to empower community, support renewable energy and the transformation of our energy system while providing returns to shareholders and the local economy. They state that it would possible to return $80 million to the local area through profits and operating expenses from a potential revenue of $300 million. Now that’s quite a significant boost to anyone’s local economy.
Let’s look at our part of Gippsland (Baw Baw, Latrobe and Wellington shires)- we have about 66,000 homes and the average Victorian home spends $2,800 per year on gas and electricity. That’s $185 million spent per year with a significant portion of the profit leaving the local area. Is there an appetite to draw some of that back home? Could we put that money to better use- building more local capacity in renewable power or storage systems like massive battery banks and pumped hydro? Building local infrastructure, employing local people in jobs that make a positive difference as opposed to those that worsen health or destroy the environment, maintaining and building our skills and providing hope for our children and grandchildren all seem like worthwhile goals to me.
The Congress for Community Energy gets underway today with a series of workshops over the next 4 days. It is sure to be inspiring and will be the source of more blog posts I’m sure!
If you’re interested in being involved in a local community owned energy retailer or anything else mentioned here, please comment or contact us at BBSN.
Yesterday I spent a fascinating afternoon with Creative Carbon Scotland and Land Art Generator Initiative at their Beautiful Renewables event in Edinburgh. The event brought together engineers, planners, community energy groups, artists and architects to develop an understanding of what is involved in the development of an energy generation project and what each of the events participants […]
via Every community energy group should invite an artist onto its board! — power culture
Last night a reasonable crowd gathered at the Latrobe Performing Arts Centre to hear a presentation by Soren Hermansson from the island of Samso in Denmark about the transformation of the energy system to 100% renewables which they achieved some years ago. That presentation was followed up by a workshop with about 40 participants from across Gippsland. What is clear to me from the last 24hrs is that there is a real sense of excitement and of opportunity to make the transition from coal based energy in Gippsland to something much better.
It is now obvious that in only a few years there will not be any brown coal power stations in the Latrobe Valley. The age of coal is ending and brown coal is dying first. The market is moving to the cheapest form of new generation which is renewables. The CSIRO has advised that there are no technical barriers to a 100% renewables power grid. The issues of frequency synchronisation and matching supply with demand are manageable with adequate storage capacity in either chemical form in batteries or in potential energy like pumped hydro and other technology.
How Gippslanders respond to this new reality is crucial for the health of the community. We could step back and be the receivers of solutions from big multinational companies who will reap profits lost to our local economy or we could step up and create solutions ourselves. We could duplicate existing community ownership structures for a range of services from energy retailing (see Enova), generation of power through solar or wind or biomass or pumped hydro, hydrogen production, electric car charging points, managing our waste streams for profit through energy production, putting waste methane to good use from disused tip sites and more….. I think the key is to ensure that the community has a chance to be involved, to plan and to have ownership with reliable financial returns.
Gippsland Climate Change Coalition (GCCN) will be holding more community workshops as will BBSN, so watch this space and get involved. Do you have more ideas to share?