The Victorian Government is supporting the development and implementation of community renewable energy projects.
The Government has established measures as part of the Renewable Energy Roadmap to facilitate the uptake of renewable energy by Victorian households and communities to support the transition to a clean energy future.
The Renewable Communities Program (RCP) will provide up to $1 million in grant funding to support the delivery of implementation ready community led renewable energy project(s).
Funding (of up to $1 million) will be provided to project(s) that:
- will increase the uptake of renewable energy generation;
- consider energy justice and social benefit;
- promote community participation; and
- reduce greenhouse emissions.
Applications for the program opened in August 2018, closed in October 2018. and are currently being processed.
The guide is a resource for community groups that are either considering a renewable energy project or are in the process of establishing a project.
The guide consolidates existing knowledge and resources, as well as providing links to further information and advice. It also gives practical pointers on critical commercial, technical, governance and regulatory aspects of community renewable energy projects. This includes information on how to identify an appropriate business model, select the most suitable technology, and manage a project.
Established under section 94 the Electricity Industry Act 2000, the PiLoR framework allows electricity generators to negotiate payments made to local councils and includes a methodology under section 94(6A) to assist in calculating these payments. The methodology includes both a fixed and variable component, the latter based on nameplate capacity of the power station, and it applies to most types of electricity generators but does not include solar as a fuel source.
A new additional methodology has been introduced specifically for community and smaller commercial solar and wind generators up to 25 MW capacity, which sets a variable charge only based on electricity generation sent to the grid. Solar is now included as an energy source, allowing upcoming solar generation projects to use the PiLoR methodology.
The changes have been made to encourage more community projects and lower access costs for smaller renewable generators, while ensuring councils receive enough revenue to help fund local services. Further information and the Ministers’ announcement are available below:
The Victorian government has committed $900,000 to establish three pilot Community Power Hubs in regional Victoria. They are funded for two years (concluding in June 2019) to operate in Bendigo (hosted by the Bendigo Sustainability Group), Ballarat (hosted by BREAZE Inc.) and the Latrobe Valley (hosted by the Gippsland Climate Change Network).
The community-owned and operated hubs are supporting Victorian communities to access the skills and expertise required to develop and deliver community-based renewable energy projects, characterised by local ownership, participation and benefit sharing.
The hubs will support the development of renewable energy projects by providing legal and technical expertise while helping build local skills and networks.
In 2015 local community group Newstead 2021, was awarded a $200,000 grant to help plan the transition of their town to 100 per cent renewable energy. Newstead, near Castlemaine in Central Victoria, has approximately 500 homes.
The funding helped Newstead 2021 develop a business case and commercial model for supplying the town's homes and businesses with 100 per cent renewable energy. The model aims to incorporate community ownership and social equity and in balance with commercial viability.
In 2015, the government awarded a $100,000 grant to the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group to build a 40 kW solar photovoltaic system at the Blackforest Timber Mill in Woodend. The commissioned system now supplies the mill's tenants with discounted solar power and a funding stream to support future renewable energy projects in the area.
Lessons learned from the delivery of these projects will be shared so that the full benefits of the funding are captured.
Community Renewables Solar Grants Initiative
The Community Renewables Solar Grants Initiative is a government grant program providing a clean energy future for Victoria’s lifesaving clubs.
New Energy Jobs Fund
The government also supports innovative community energy projects through the New Energy Jobs Fund (NEJF). This $20 million fund supports projects that create long-term jobs, increase the uptake of renewable energy generation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive innovation in new energy technologies.
Funding has been available through three grant rounds with the final round closing in early 2018. Over 75 per cent of successful projects funded through the NEJF are community energy projects.
More information about the NEJF can be found on the NEJF webpage.
In June 2016, the Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills Committee opened a Parliamentary Inquiry into community energy projects. The committee investigated supporting the role of communities in the Victorian energy economy, the terms of reference for the inquiry can be found here.
The inquiry received submissions from 99 different individuals, groups and organisations including the Victorian Government. Hearings were held between October 2016 and May 2017, and the committee’s reportwas tabled on 19 September 2017. The government tabled its response in Parliament in March 2018.