South Coast Register, Nowra NSW by Dayle Latham
NEWLY formed community group that could see the Shoalhaven become a leading region in renewable power is gaining momentum with increasing energy.
Repower Shoalhaven’s focus is to create local renewable energy projects for the benefit of community members.
Culburra Beach renewable energy consultant and founder Chris Cooper, 27, said the time was right for such a group.
"Power prices are going up," he said. "Electricity companies are unpopular at the moment." Additionally, the focus locally on coal seam gas was turning people’s attention to other sources of energy.
Repower Shoalhaven had been formed because there was a real need to give community members a direct role in building local solutions to global problems, Mr Cooper said.
"The increasing profitability of renewable energy has created some excellent opportunities for the community to step in and crowd-fund’ a commercial scale renewable energy project," he said.
"The first step in the process is to pull together an enthusiastic group of local people who can take a project through to the development phase.
"We hope to have our first generator up and running within 12 months, where the clean electricity will be sold locally to create returns for community investors."
The idea is to initiate projects, such as installing solar panels on the roofs of community-based or commercial businesses, where there is a big demand for energy.
The community will be able to recoup money by selling the power to the building owner.
"Any large end user could be a beneficiary of this," Mr Cooper said.
"They would be able to buy our power cheaper than from the grid."
This model was ideal for organisations such as universities or hospitals.
"The real value in such a project, however, is the empowerment it gives to local people who actually make it happen," Mr Cooper said.
It was also an opportunity for people to become educated about energy.
Repower Shoalhaven will officially launch next Wednesday, May 15 at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre.
The event, hosted by Richard Morecroft, will start at 7pm and admission is free.
Mr Cooper, who works as a renewable energy consultant at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, will speak at the launch with Nicky Ison, a leading community energy expert and co-director of Community Power Agency.
"The time is ripe to take advantage of these opportunities," Mr Cooper said.
"With Shoalhaven’s ample sun, micro-hydro and bioenergy resources there is nothing stopping us from being a leading community energy region in Australia."
For more information visit www.repower.net.au or see the Facebook group Repower Shoalhaven.
Repower Shoalhaven Incorporated
PO Box 2226, Bomaderry NSW, 2541
ABN 73 379 383 110