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Community forum shines spotlight on renewable energy
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.