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) has provided grant funding to support the delivery of implementation-ready community-led renewable energy projects.

Funding has been awarded to projects that:

  • increase the uptake of renewable energy generation;
  • consider energy justice and social benefit;
  • promote community participation; and
  • reduce greenhouse emissions.

Applications to the program opened in August 2018 and closed in October 2018. The Victorian Government announced $1.139 million to successful grant recipients on 18 December 2018 including:

Yackandandah Public Virtual Power Plant - Totally Renewable Yackandandah - $103,788

Totally Renewable Yackandandah will install solar PV and battery systems on community buildings in and around the township of Yackandandah. This will provide low cost, behind the meter, electricity to the mostly volunteer groups housed in the buildings, helping to cut costs, reduce emissions and join the whole of town 100 per cent renewable energy target.

Hepburn Wind Community Solar Farm - Hepburn Community Wind Park Co-operative - $500,000

To build the first Victorian hybrid wind and solar park, and Australia's first 100 per cent community-owned hybrid energy park. Co-locating 3MW of solar PV to accompany the 4.1MW of wind generation on site, greatly contributing to the shire's zero-net energy target by 2025 and zero-net emissions by 2030; sharing the benefits back to the community.

Skipton Hospital Straw Heating - Pyrenees Shire Council - $273,662

To replace LPG heating at the Skipton Hospital with a straw pellet fuelled heating, using locally produced straw pellets to reduce hospital heating costs. This project will reduce carbon emissions, provide additional income for local farmers, and improve local air quality by reducing stubble burning.

Powered for Life - Ballarat Renewable Energy & Zero Emissions - $7,728

The project will install a 10kW solar array on the roof of the Uniting Ballarat's 'Restore' Op Shop. This will result in operational savings that will go towards Uniting Ballarat's non-government funded programs such as Lifeline Ballarat, BreezeWay Meals & Meals for Change.

The North East Solar Benefits program - Renewable Albury Wodonga - $54,256

The installation of micro-grid enabled solar energy systems on ten Beyond Housing (social housing) homes, provided for residents at risk of homelessness. These installations will address energy poverty, providing residents with constant and affordable electricity supply. The project will also assist residents with the development of an energy efficiency plan.

Proudly Renewable Powered Disability Services - McCallum Disability Services - $49,500

The proposed 40kW solar PV system to be installed for McCallum Disability Services will reduce electricity costs by 65 per cent enabling funds to be redeployed to their supported employment program. This program provides meaningful employment for 100 people with disabilities. The solar system will see greenhouse gas emissions reduced by approximately 96 per cent.

Mirboo North Hall Precinct Project - Mirboo North Community Shed Co-operative - $88,000

There will be 82.5kW of behind the meter solar PV installed on four buildings in Mirboo North. This will significantly reduce electricity costs for community focused tenants and provide an income stream to contribute to future projects.

Helped by Solar - Coghill's Creek Progress Association - $6,363

The Coghill's Creek Progress Association will install a 6kW of solar PV system on the roof of their hall, saving on electricity costs and using the savings to provide more services to their community.

Solar Panel Installation - Stony Creek Racecourse & Recreation Reserve - $56,000

Stony Creek are facing increasing energy costs. The installation on a 24kW solar PV system will allow the community group to access the majority of their energy needs from the sun. The installation is to include micro inverters and an analytical real time monitor to help the community manage its energy consumption.

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.

Guide to Community-Owned Renewable Energy for Victorians

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 is available below:

Fact Sheet – Information for Local Government Authorities and Renewable Energy Generators (PDF, 577.2 KB)

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.

For more information visit Sustainability Victoria’sCommunity Power Hubs program webpage or the Community Power Hubs webpage.

Newstead

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.

Woodend

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.

Please contact new.energy@delwp.vic.gov.au for more information about the Victorian Government’s community energy initiatives.

Page last updated: 11/01/19