South Coast Register, Nowra NSW by Dayle Latham
ABOUT 150 enthusiastic and interested locals attended the launch of renewable energy initiative Repower Shoalhaven at the entertainment centre recently.
The meeting, hosted by former ABC news presenter Richard Morecroft, was designed to tell the public about opportunities to raise capital and fund renewable energy projects within the community.
Leading community energy expert and co-director of Community Power Agency Nicky Ison spoke about community energy projects that had taken place around the world and the current rise of community solar in Australia, where 40 groups are working on developing local initiatives.
She has participated in a number of launches of community renewable energy groups but said this was the largest turnout she had seen.
“We launched a group in Sydney in March but the crowd here was even bigger,” Ms Ison said.
Repower Shoalhaven’s founding member and energy consultant at University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures Chris Cooper gave a presentation on the feasibility of community funded schemes and the economic, social and environmental benefits of these projects for the local area.
“For us to have a strong, resilient and sustainable local economy in the future, we need to create positive investment opportunities for people in the Shoalhaven,” Mr Cooper said.
“The turnout and the sheer number and calibre of questions people were asking shows that time is right for this sort of project – a project led by the people, for the people.”
Mr Cooper outlined various business models and projects the group could adopt, including the community-solar model, in which local investors raise capital to install solar panels on the roof of a local business or organisation.
The group would the sell the power directly to the building at a lower price than electricity bought off the grid; a win-win situation for the building owner and the community investors.
Mr Cooper also spoke about how such a project would empower the people who helped make it happen, through skills development and being an active part of a positive change in the community.
He called upon members of the community who wanted to be part of projects to come forward and get involved.
The group plans to meet regularly and form working groups to take a first project to the development stage.
For more information and to find out about when and where the group meets, visit the website: www.repower.net.au