Solar grids need to be cheaper, Totally Renewable Yackandandah tells federal government inquiry

Totally Renewable Yackandandah has asked the federal government to loosen the restrictions on communities being able to run their own energy grids.

All homes in Victoria pay the same fee to energy providers to have electricity distributed from the Gippsland base.

The standard cost across both city and country homes ensures those in rural areas are not slugged more for energy coming from further away.

But it has been argued people using community energy grids should not have to pay the fee at all.

In a submission to the government’s inquiry into modernising Australia’s electricity grid, TRY called for a “revision of tariff structures which limit the ability for electricity to be traded locally”. 

“This feature of the energy market effectively reduces the enormous potential of minigrids, which are currently locked in to the full kW/h tariff cost of energy provision,” the submission stated.

Community groups like ours can play a significant role in facilitating the modernisation of Australia’s electricity grid. - Totally Renewable Yackandandah

TRY has entered into a partnership with AusNet service to set up the town as its own energy grid, sharing energy from solar panels, and become 100 per cent renewable by 2022.

The group’s submission argued community projects should be a major part of the future of energy use around the country, assisted by funded projects at a local government level.

“We have found that people in our local community are willing to invest in renewable energy projects managed for and by their local community,” it stated.

“TRY believes that community groups like ours can play a significant role in facilitating the modernisation of Australia’s electricity grid.”

Ben McGowan was one of the TRY members involved in the submission.

“The main reasons for making a submission to the inquiry was to inform the committee of the role for community energy projects like the Yackandandah one for modernising the grid in the hope that they might direct the attention of the inquiry to some of the foreseeable problems for community mini grids,” he said.

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