Hundreds of North East homes are planning to get away from expensive electricity from the grid as much as possible, signing up to take part in the new Community Energy Retailer.
More than 450 people attended the forums and about 600 people have signed up in total.
Cam Klose from the Community Energy Retailer group said the roadshow built a powerful constituency to support renewable energy across Wodonga, Wangaratta, Bright, Benalla, Beechworth and Tallangatta.
“While politicians squabble and fight over energy, communities across North East Victoria are getting on with the job of building an alternative energy future,” he said.
“It means local jobs, investment in renewable energy and ensuring that everyone in the community benefits.
“I am so inspired by the amount of enthusiasm right across the region for a new energy model.
“We have the largest community energy network in Australia and are home to the highest concentration of community energy groups.”
The renewable energy network will be based on the “mini-grid” system being used by a small group of residents through Totally Renewable Yackandandah and Mondo Power, a subsidiary of AusNet Services.
A computer called an “ubi” monitors exactly how much energy homes have generated, used and exported by the hour, and can help residents control how to use the least power and purchase extra power off the grid at cheaper off-peak times if needed.
The group’s next step will be to work with renewable energy groups across the North East on what the retailer will look like and what offers will be made to residents.
The business case for the Community Energy Retailer states residents who want to be involved will be able to purchase solar panels, batteries and an ubi computer through a low-interest personal loan negotiated with WAW Credit Union.
Under Victorian law, all trading of energy must be facilitated by a licensed electricity retailer.
The group will seek $400,000 from the Victorian government’s new energy jobs fund, and hoped to raise $100,000 through membership fees of $100 for 1000 participants, to cover the upfront costs.
A low-interest loan for $250,000 has also been negotiated through a philanthropist.
The group is hoping to begin operating in early 2019.