VICTORIA'S Energy Minister has told Yackandandah residents they are a "beacon" to other towns looking to shift to renewable power.
Lily D'Ambrosio was addressing more than 100 people at the launch of a community battery designed to help the town be 100 per cent renewable by next year.
The 274 kilowatt-hour battery has been installed at a former sawmill, now used by sculptor Benjamin Gilbert on the southern side of Yackandandah.
It is linked to a 65 kilowatt solar set-up which has seen 180 panels placed on the workshop and they are connected to an upgraded transformer which formerly supplied the mill.
It is the "first community-owned behind-the-meter solar power system to supply retail electricity customers in Australia" according to its proponent Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY).
"You are the beacon and you are shining the light every single day," she told an audience that included Indi MP Helen Haines and her predecessor Cathy McGowan as well as Indigo Shire mayor Jenny O'Connor and Alpine Shire mayor John Forsyth.
"All of you can absolutely hold your head up high."
The minister flicked a mock switch to light two yak shapes to launch the battery.
The yak is a mascot for TRY.
However, Sydney's COVID lockdown means the battery is not yet operational because technicians have been unavailable to travel to Yackandandah for final commissioning works.
The Yack01 battery has been funded by $171,000 from Victoria's government, a $100,000 loan to TRY's retail arm Indigo Power and $106,000 raised from TRY.
The loan with WAW Credit Union has been underwritten by government enviro body Sustainability Victoria.
Ms D'Ambrosio told The Border Mail she had followed Yackandandah's renewable efforts since becoming Energy Minister in 2014.
"I think Yackandandah understood where they are located in Victoria that they've got a really good opportunity to capture the benefits of solar and....really understand that technology is available to them to bring to life their vision," she said.
Dr Haines said the battery was a "spectacular result" for the town and example to other places across Australia.
"If you don't feel a ripple, a tingle, of electricity down your spine today, I don't know what it would take," she told the gathering.
TRY president Juliette Millbank said the project to tackle climate change came from a "yearning to do something in a world that was seemingly not".
IN OTHER NEWS:
Indigo Power managing director Ben McGowan said Albury-Wodonga, Beechworth and Yarrawonga are being eyed off as next in line for a community battery similar to the one launched at Yackandandah on Thursday.
He, said it was hoped those other centres could come online from next year.
Having a big rooftop space for solar panels and a good connection to the electricity grid are key requirements with Mr McGowan suggesting a larger battery set-up capable of powering more than 40 homes may be used.
Indigo Power is benefitting from a state-funded Hume Community Power Hub announced by Victorian Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio on Thursday.
It is designed to encourage communities to plan and move to renewable energy.
"The Hume region is already home to Australia's most active community energy network and this new power hub will allow us to support these groups and communities to develop renewable energy solutions that are right for them," Mr McGowan said.