Funding boost for renewable energy projects

March 11, 2021 BY

The Ballarat Community Power Hub and its projects was among the pilot projects supported by the state government. Photo: BREAZE

LOCAL residents have been given the chance to tackle climate change while reducing their bills following a major investment by the state government in community renewable energy.

The Community Power Hubs program will support the development of community-owned and operated renewable energy projects across the state.

The program will offer more than $3.3 million in grants for community organisations to establish the hubs. A pilot program which ran from 2017 to 2020 supported 43 projects and saved host organisations a total of $437,000 a year on their energy bills.

During this period, carbon emissions were reduced by 4,100 tonnes annually which is the equivalent of taking more than 1,240 cars off the road.

Geelong Sustainability president Vicki Perrett welcomed the announcement after her group narrowly missed out on participating in the pilot the first time around.

“Geelong Sustainability is now part of an alliance of community energy groups across the Barwon South West region,” Ms Perrett said.

“There is a recognition of the benefit that community energy groups can bring to their local communities. We want to democratise energy.”

Community hubs will be led by local not-for-profit or social enterprise organisations and bring together organisations from across the region

The hubs will provide the resources, expertise and start-up funding required to develop projects such as solar panel installations on community facilities and solar bulk buy programs for local businesses.

South Barwon MP Darren Cheeseman said the program will play an integral role in bringing community-owned renewable energy projects to life in local communities.

“The community owned and operated hubs will help drive investment in regions like ours, while creating jobs and reducing energy bills,” Mr Cheeseman said. “I encourage local community groups in South Barwon to come together and take advantage of the program.”

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the initiative was a big win for the renewable energy market.

“The Community Power Hubs program will contribute to emission reductions right across Victoria. It will support grassroots renewable projects and get more renewable energy into our grid,” she said.

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