There are more renewable energy community groups in the North East than anywhere else in Victoria, now they want to take their advocacy to the next level.
Wodonga and Wangaratta have been the hosts of the first two of six forums across the region this week.
The goal is to sign up people for a new community energy retailer, which would allow people to generate and share electricity using a solar and battery system.
About half of the 80 people at Wangaratta GOTAFE last night raised their hands when Community Power Energy’s Nicky Ison asked who already used solar panels.
“A bunch of community energy groups … are looking to develop models where low income households, renters, people who live in apartments will be able to access the benefits so no one is left behind in our transition to clean energy,” she said.
“The thing about community energy is that people are just getting on and doing it.”
The community energy scheme has also won the support of government, including DELWP’s Clare Kiely.
“The transition to a new energy system is inevitable … however it is complex,” she said.
Organiser Cam Klose said the project, stretching from Wodonga to Seymour, began as part of Totally Renewable Yackandandah’s goal to become 100 per cent reliable on renewable energy by 2022.
“We need to be able to facilitate electricity trading and sharing between households, utilising that solar on the roof and the batteries, and also generating renewable energy out of the town as well – maybe pumped storage, pumped hydro or a solar plant,” he said.
“The community energy retailer would keep the money in your community, creating local jobs, and we’ll distribute the profits back to local groups through grants.”
More than 100 people have already signed up to take part in the scheme, with more forums to come in Bright, Benalla, Beechworth and Tallangatta.