Ovens & Murray Advertiser

Community forum shines spotlight on renewable energy

- By CORAL COOKSLEY

A COMMUNITY energy forum held at Beechworth’s Servicemen’s Memorial Hall shone the spotlight on local renewable energy opportunit­ies.

The forum supported by Hume Community Power, which is delivered jointly by social enterprise Indigo Power and GV Community Energy, brought people together from across the region.

Indigo Power managing director Ben McGowan said a network of 17 community groups now existed which stretched from Wodonga to Seymour and from Mount Beauty to Shepparton.

The meeting explored how renewable energy can be increased in local communitie­s, how Indigo Power worked as an organisati­on as well as an address on the high level of change in national electricit­y markets.

Experts in the field delivered informativ­e talks on community-scale batteries, the future of the electricit­y grid, as well as sessions on electric vehicles, pumped hydro energy storage and developing solar projects.

Community battery researcher, ANU’s Dr Marnie Shaw, said the North East can cement its reputation as a leader in community-scale batteries.

“Yackandand­ah’s community battery was the first of its kind in Australia and I know there are feasibilit­y studies happening across other parts of the region,” she said.

“It is exciting to see communitie­s making the most of the opportunit­ies from renewable energy technology and taking the power into their own hands.

“We hope to support more communitie­s across the region to take steps toward developing their own projects.”

Mr McGowan said communitie­s have a chance to lead the transition to renewable energy.

“From community batteries to rooftop solar and even pumped hydro, increasing­ly, we no longer need to rely on coal fired power stations hundreds of kilometres away,” he said.

“Not only is this good for the environmen­t, but it also keeps electricit­y dollars circulatin­g in our region.”

With the forum a great connecting experience, Mr McGowan said connection is crucial to be effective in reaching renewable goals.

“People took away good ideas from current projects being worked on,” he said.

Mr McGowan said people now turned to the North East region as a leader in renewable projects” he said.

“It’s a real movement not just in Indigo Shire but other communitie­s as well and it’s really exciting.”

The Community Energy Forum had been supported by Sustainabi­lity Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Government as part of the Hume Community Power Hub.

 ?? PHOTO: Coral Cooksley ?? EXPERTS: Some of the guest speakers Former Australian Parliament member Cathy McGowan AO (left), GV Community Energy chief executive Geoff Lodge, Indigo Power managing director Ben McGowan with ANU senior researcher Dr Marnie Shaw at the community forum last month.
PHOTO: Coral Cooksley EXPERTS: Some of the guest speakers Former Australian Parliament member Cathy McGowan AO (left), GV Community Energy chief executive Geoff Lodge, Indigo Power managing director Ben McGowan with ANU senior researcher Dr Marnie Shaw at the community forum last month.

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