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Neighbourhood batteries can provide a raft of benefits, however because these projects can be complex they need to be well designed and managed to succeed.

The following is a guide for everything you and your community need to consider for a neighbourhood battery project.

Installation of pole top battery.
The installation of a pole top battery. Photo supplied by United Energy.

Guide to running a neighbourhood battery project

Questions organisations and communities need to ask before thinking about a neighbourhood battery:

  • Does your community have an energy problem which a battery would solve?
  • Is there a simpler or cheaper solution than a battery?
  • Will a battery meet your needs and priorities?
  • Can you finance a battery?

Note for all applicants seeking 100NB funding.

You need to clearly demonstrate and quantify the benefits intended for local electricity consumers and the community.

Reasons to install a neighbourhood battery

Reasons your community may want to install a battery:

  • increase/cheaper access to renewable energy
  • lower power bills
  • the ability to generate revenue
  • a more reliable electricity supply
  • to contribute to Victoria’s energy transition
  • to manage energy supply and demand in low-voltage networks
  • an increased ability to store renewable energy to be used all year round.

A neighbourhood battery is not the only solution to any of these problems. Alternatives include:

  • energy efficiency improvements
  • solar bulk buys
  • household battery bulk buys
  • Green Power
  • solutions to network issues from your local Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP).


There are a variety of roles councils could play in a neighbourhood battery project. This could be:

  • ownership or investment:
    • Advantages: decreased operating costs for facilities with a battery. Providing reliable power to emergency community refuges. Furthermore, grant funding is available from Commonwealth and State government.
    • Disadvantages: upfront costs can be high and financial returns can be uncertain.
  • enabling land/site access:
    • Advantages: lower financial exposure. Councils can also demonstrate their commitment to the energy transition by supporting a battery project. The battery could also help solve local problems around poor energy reliability. The council would therefore be supporting local residents' improved energy access.
    • Disadvantages: Can be a cost-intensive and time-consuming process identifying appropriate sites.
  • in-kind support via community engagement and promotion. This might involve:
    • securing affordable asset insurance that may be inaccessible to community groups
    • providing engagement support in neighbourhoods installing a battery
    • encouraging battery installations within private developments or retrofits.

Community groups

Community groups can play several roles in a neighbourhood battery. Community groups can:

  • lead the project
  • part or fully own the battery
  • invest in the project, or
  • support another project’s engagement and communications.

As a community group you have the closest relationship/s to the users of a battery. As such, you are well placed to understand and respond to local issues, such as:

  • network issues of a specific area. This can be current and expected future levels of solar penetration and network conditions
  • community preferences and priorities. This can include:
    • the location and visual appearance of batteries
    • the desire for other initiatives, such as public Electric Vehicle (EV) charging
    • support for increased household solar or battery storage
    • energy efficiency measures
    • electrification
  • concerns, questions and confusion about potential neighbourhood battery models.

Investors, businesses developers and not-for-profits

Investors, businesses, developers and not-for-profits can install a battery for any number of purposes. They might install one to support:

  • a school
  • a nursing home
  • a sporting club
  • a business park
  • the development of a greenfield site
  • a caravan park
  • industrial, commercial, or residential operations.

For investors, businesses, developers and not for profits, battery storage:

  • enables greater self-consumption of renewable energy. This includes solar power
  • can mean more reliable electricity
  • can mean lower electricity costs. Batteries can reduce the need to purchase electricity at times when it is most expensive, such as during the evening.

Investors, businesses, developers and not-for-profits need to consider how the project:

  • delivers benefits to low income and vulnerable households
  • delivers benefits to households with no access to solar PV generation. For example, renters and apartment-dwellers
  • adds to finished or scheduled works that increase electrification in local communities and/or at the battery location
  • demonstrates increased benefits for local electricity consumers. This is via a novel battery operational and/or commercial models
  • is in network areas with poor reliability. This is important for regional areas where a battery will increase energy reliability
  • is in constrained networks with solar export limits. The battery’s purpose is to reduce network constraints and increase local hosting capacity for solar
  • is within one or more of the 29 Local Government Areas committed to by the Victorian Government
  • delivers a greater number of batteries and faster deployment timelines
  • is configured. If the battery will be in front or behind the meter, or a hybrid version.

Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs)

DNSPs play a vital role in:

  • providing information and data to support decisions about neighbourhood battery site selection and ongoing operation
  • enabling integration into the distribution network.

What DNSPs need to consider when working on a battery, irrespective of ownership:

  • how they partner with organisations or communities during implementation
  • how they can value a range of network services that batteries can supply.

The following are examples of arrangements between owners and operators to run a neighbourhood battery. The rationale in each case depends on each parties’ intentions, capabilities, and the profitability of the system.

Please note: there are variations on these themes and potential cross over between the following models.

*DNSP: Distributed Network Service Provider.








Mainly used for hedging of major price events.




For profit operation from market trading and contracts.




Cost neutral operation intended to bring community benefits.




Lease to a retailer for market dispatch, excluding critical peak consumption events





Cost neutral operation intended to

bring community benefits.

With a neighbourhood battery you can operate it in one of the following models:

Solar sponge

Charge your community’s battery during the day (when solar generation is at its peak) to discharge in the evening, when energy is in most demand. This means, you can maximise your community’s solar generation and consumption.

Advantages: It is predictable, simple and low risk. Your battery’s life will be maximised. It also improves the local network's ability to accommodate rooftop solar exports.

Disadvantages: Lacks the flexibility to achieve the best financial market returns.

Market participation

You can make money from your battery in two ways:

  • participating in wholesale markets. For example, storing energy when the price of energy is low, and dispatching during higher priced, higher demand periods (such as the evening)
  • being paid to support the electricity distribution network.

Advantages: Able to take advantage of potentially volatile wholesale market conditions. If managed effectively during these conditions, revenues can be significant for a neighbourhood battery. This assumes the owner has a share in the battery’s profits and/or operational model and the optimiser software is operated effectively.

Disadvantages: The software for this is complex and dependent on accurate data inputs. It requires a capable Market Participant to operate the battery and bid into the wholesale market. Only indirectly supports renewable energy uptake.


You can deliver local network benefits depending on where you site and how you operate your battery. Examples include:

  • helping to increase your local energy network’s reliability
  • reducing the risk of network failures.

Advantages: This model can improve the reliability of local networks and reduce network costs to consumers.

Disadvantages: The benefits of cost reduction are only indirectly passed through to consumers by energy retailers. The consumer bill may not include the full benefits of network cost reduction.

This model only indirectly supports renewable energy uptake in the local low-voltage network. Charging and discharging are aligned to network requirements rather than using surplus renewable generation.

Community support services

You can use a battery to benefit your community. You could install it in a neighbourhood house, sporting club, library, or even use it to charge EVs.

Advantages: Community hubs and their tenants can benefit from the battery. You can reinvest any gains, such as energy profit or cost savings, into the tenant’s service offering. You can partner with a battery aggregator to sell excess power into the wholesale market and generate revenue.

Disadvantages: Financial returns are more uncertain. There is a trade-off between supporting the community through provision of cheaper energy and revenue generation.

Hybrid model

You can use a battery in a combination of the above and ‘value-balance’ your battery.

Advantages: Stakeholders or owners can choose an operating model that has many benefits. For example, you could choose to target revenue generation during high renewable generation in the grid. For other times it could be used to support the local community.

Disadvantages: Having multiple objectives can be difficult to balance. If objectives have conflicting ways of operating, then all objectives may be reduced or not realised.

The battery may also require a more complex and costly metering arrangement.

When choosing a site for a neighbourhood battery, you will need to consider the:

  • operating model of your battery
  • ownership arrangement of your battery.

The 4 steps for site selection:


The purpose of scouting is to identify high-potential sites using geographical analysis.

To frame your search, you need to do this through your project’s objectives.


  • Focus of your battery: to address vulnerable communities or the cost of living. You will focus on low-income suburbs, public and social housing, renters and so on.
  • Focus of your battery: to address energy transition. Your focus will be on areas of high solar penetration and/or incidence of network constraints.

Site identification

The purpose of site identification is to find specific locations for a battery installation. These should have some or all the key features of a feasible site.

To frame your search, you need to focus on physical, technical, and stakeholder features.

You might consider, for example:

  • land ownership
  • low voltage network characteristics (customer mix, demand profile, solar penetration)
  • possible connection points and capacity
  • flood, fire and traffic risk
  • proximity to homes and vegetation.

Stakeholder engagement

When considering a site, you need to consider your stakeholders. Here are some questions you might ask:

  • Who will be most interested in the selection of the site?
  • Who will be most impacted by the selection of the site?
  • Who should be involved in the selection of the site?
  • At what point should you involve stakeholders in the selection of the site?
  • How will you incorporate and prioritise feedback you receive about the selection of the site?
  • How will you communicate the site selection processes?

Site assessment and selection

When assessing the site use the following three criteria:

Environmental and physical:

  • footprint or the available space of a site
  • fire, flood and traffic risk
  • vegetation, and if the battery will disturb or enhance it
  • visual impact
  • proximity to residents in terms of noise, sightlines and land value.

Community stakeholders:

  • landholder support for the project and the site selected
  • potential complexity and cost to lease the site
  • any disruption/s to the existing use of the land
  • any opportunities for community involvement and/or benefit sharing
  • any impacts on accessibility
  • EV charging potential.

Technical feasibility and benefit:

  • the capacity for a battery to be connected
  • demand profile
  • customer mix: residential versus commercial and industrial
  • how the battery will be installed, what will this cost, and how difficult this will be
  • earthing.

Necessary government assessments for a neighbourhood battery site

You will need to conduct the following assessments. These will determine if a specific site is suitable to host a neighbourhood battery.

Environmental overlays

This identifies potential impacts for sites of environmental significance. This may lead to:

  • added controls being placed on your battery
  • the lifecycle of your battery being defined.

Flood overlays

These apply to land carrying flood flows, associated with waterways, and with open drainage systems including land subject to inundation.

Note: Most batteries are rated against water penetration and installed on elevated rigid bases like a concrete footing. These measures are not intended to protect against the risk of inundation.

Cultural heritage

This protects Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in Victoria. It also recognises Aboriginal people as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

If your battery is in a cultural sensitivity area you may need a cultural heritage management plan.

Native title

This recognises by Australian law that some Indigenous people have rights and interests to their land that come from their traditional laws and customs.

You will need to consider this particularly for sites on Crown Land.

European heritage

This manages places with heritage significance to the local area.

You may require approval from Heritage Victoria if your battery is on a heritage site.

Bushfire overlays

This identifies land that may be significantly affected by extreme bushfires.
If your battery is in a hazardous bushfire risk area you will need to mitigate this.

Amenity impacts

This protects built form, neighbourhood character and liveability. Factors to consider:

  • The size of the battery. This will affect the size of the land and other requirements including clearances.
  • The noise the battery makes. Batteries can emit an audible hum during charging and discharging. Their fans, as part of the cooling system, can also be noisy.
  • Clearances between a battery and a property. Typically, you will need a minimum of 7.5m depending on the size of the battery and the outcomes of acoustic studies of the noise impacts.
  • Visual amenity. This can be managed by vegetation or other screening or painted surfaces.

Council land and assets

The use of a council's land or assets may directly impact its ability to deliver on key council responsibilities. This can include:

  • public access to recreation
  • parking and road usage.

Depending on your battery, you will need the following resources.

Staffing/consultancy resources:

  • battery owner
  • project manager
  • landowner representative
  • retailer aggregator representative
  • community engagement officer
  • construction manager.

Initial budget outlay:

  • capital expenses
  • battery equipment
  • installation
  • connection fees
  • project management
  • community engagement
  • contingency.

Ongoing/operating budget

  • administration
  • retailing, IT systems
  • metering
  • system maintenance
  • insurance
  • site maintenance.

While neighbourhood batteries have many benefits, they are complex projects and only likely to succeed with the support of the community.

If you are engaging the community, it’s vital you implement a communication and engagement plan. This would include:

Situation analysis

Summary of the community views, media coverage, changes in policy, political situation about community batteries.

Purpose of engagement

Why are you doing this engagement?

  • access to renewable energy
  • lower residential power bills
  • the ability to generate revenue
  • a more reliable electricity supply for consumers
  • contributing to Victoria’s energy transition
  • a solution to managing energy supply and demand in low-voltage networks
  • the ability to store renewable energy to be used all year round.

Guiding principles of engagement

Use IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum to guide the design, purpose, and strategy of your engagement.

Engagement objectives

Objectives follow the SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). This format will provide most of your evaluation criteria.

Engagement strategy What is your approach? How will it support your objectives and manage your risk? How will it manage stakeholder complexities?

Key messages

What are the most important things we want stakeholders/community to know and understand?

Negotiables/non-negotiables   It is important to tell stakeholders/community what their feedback can influence. Things that might be negotiable on a battery project include:

  • connected to the low voltage network
  • site
  • placement and orientation
  • battery hardware, software, size, height and plinth dimensions
  • vegetation, plantings, grass/turf, gravel
  • battery identity – name, artwork, cultural significance
  • online dashboard
  • profits
  • operating schedule / operating principles
  • signage
  • graffiti/vandalism treatment

Target audience

Who do you want your communications messaging reaching? Primary and secondary audience.

Stakeholder analysis

List your stakeholders and their level of influence.

For more complex engagements, you will need to identify their values and possibly develop separate messaging and strategy for each group.

It’s also important to consider diverse or underrepresented groups.

Stakeholder mapping or values matrix

A stakeholder map is a snapshot of your stakeholder landscape at a given point in time. It's often depicted as a graph with 2 axes divided into 4 quadrants:

  • The x-axis represents a stakeholder's level of power or influence over your project.
  • The y-axis indicates their level of interest in your project.

Risks, issues and opportunities

What might be a blocker for the project/are there community concerns/media issues/internal concerns?

What are we doing to mitigate the concerns/risks? What are the opportunities?

Engagement activities and schedule

What are your engagement activities, who do they involve, when will they happen?

Budget and resources

List the financial, physical and people resources required to deliver the engagement activities.

Accessibility, diversity, and inclusion

List the accessibility requirements for your different stakeholder groups. Where possible consult with a representative from that group to understand their needs.

Triggers, milestones and key dates

Foreseeable and unforeseeable events that will trigger public interest in this project.

Consider opportunities for public promotion and engagement at key milestones and plan ahead for how you will manage these.


Using your SMART objectives, determine how you will measure the success of the engagement. Gather the required data and document what went well and what can be improved in future. Consider elements like stakeholder relationship impact, timeframes, budget, and the delivery on objectives.

AusNet Services

Pre-connection information and services available

The GridView portal is a self-serve tool that shows key distribution network information. It also shows distribution transformer (pole-top and kiosk-mounted transformers) capacity and use. The tool displays information in a user-friendly interactive map.

Here is a comprehensive user guide.

For access requests, please email: ausnetgridview@ausnetservices.com.au

AusNet’s DAPR mapping tool also shows key network information. This includes constraints on sub-transmission lines, zone substations, and high-voltage feeders. Information is updated annually.

Extra information

Connection of energy storage may require two separate connection processes. One for load and one for generation.
AusNet is currently considering ways to streamline this, via a single application. Please let AusNet know if your project requires two separate processes.

If you have a specific project address, you can go through the Connection portal to submit a connection request. If you’re unsure of the location, please contact AusNet.

AusNet is installing 10 pole-top neighbourhood batteries to unlock more network capacity and manage peak demands. The project is expected to be completed by July 2025.

Contact details

For any questions or to discuss your project, please email: communityenergy@ausnetservices.com.au


Pre-connection information and services available

Jemena’s DAPR mapping tool shows key network information, with some information extending down to an LV level.

Find out more about Jemena’s trial community battery tariff.

Jemena’s Embedded Generation Connection Guidelines includes the connection of energy storage.
Whilst this guideline isn’t strictly applicable to all neighbourhood battery use cases, it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the level of information Jemena will need to connect your battery, as well as indicative timelines to do so.

Additional information

The costs to connect will vary significantly between battery use cases, locations, technical/operating details etc.
Prior to a connection application, Jemena offers feasibility studies on a quoted fee basis for the purpose of estimating costs of connections to the network.

The fee for a feasibility study varies based on the complexity and scope of the proposed analysis.

Contact Details

If you’re ready to make a connection application or want to conduct a feasibility study please get in touch via the webform.

For other enquiries related to community/neighbourhood batteries please email: communitybatteries@Jemena.com.au

Powercor, CitiPower, & United Energy

Pre-connection information and services available

Network data is accessible through a self-service, network visualisation portal. This contains several layers of information about the various network assets.

This includes constraints on sub-transmission lines, zone substations, and high-voltage feeders:

You can request any network data that is not available above by submitting a network data request form at cost. A detailed description of the data required, along with billing and basic personal details will be needed to make this request.

Available network data includes:

  • an overview of current and future changes on network
  • network voltage reports
  • register of completed embedded generation projects
  • zone substation data
  • consumption data.

Additional information

Non-binding connection costs can be found through a ‘mySupply’ application:

The connections team will develop a design scope and complete network planning assessments at cost to the applicant to determine an accurate cost of the connection.

Contact details

For more information about new energy services, please contact: newenergyservices@powercor.com.au or newenergyservices@ue.com.au.

Page last updated: 28/05/24