A new program is building social license for renewable energy and providing opportunities for residents to think big about possibilities in their communities.
BREAZE, as a lead partner in the Grampians Community Power Hub, is hosting a free online community energy forum next week for people who want to bring renewable energy to their community.
Four community energy experts will share stories from regional communities that are leading the way in the renewable energy transition.
The webinar will provide the 'how to' for the next generation of projects in our region.Ian Rossiter, Ballarat Community Power Hub member
Ian Rossiter, a member of the Ballarat Community Power Hub Pilot which ran from 2017 to 2020, will share his learnings from the installation of solar and battery on public institutions.
"Community funded, owned and operated renewable energy projects have contributed significantly to Victoria's renewable energy targets and have provided sources of affordable green energy," he said.
"The webinar will provide the 'how to' for the next generation of projects in our region."
Hepburn Wind's Taryn Lane, Natimuk Community Energy's Edwin Irvine, Eddy Ostarcevic from St Arnaud Community Energy Group and BREAZE board member Paul Duggan will also speak during the forum.
RELATED COVERAGE: Grampians Community Power Hub to deliver renewable energy projects
BREAZE president Mary Debrett said ordinary people were empowering their communities.
"These are stories from regional communities that are leading the way in the renewable energy transition," she said.
"Hepburn's community-owned wind farm, the win/win of solar/battery installations for public institutions in Ballarat and Ararat, Natimuk's commitment to offset township emissions via a community solar farm, and St Arnaud's hunger for energy independence."
The Grampians Community Power Hub is a government funded program to help deliver renewable energy projects for community organisations in 11 local government areas.
The first step is to identify potential projects and then help them complete a feasibility study or development of a business case to be 'shovel-ready'.
The Community Energy Forum is a key part of community engagement to the help identify potential projects.
Ms Debrett said the power hub was looking for local champions who wanted to help their communities take advantage of the benefits of renewable energy.
"If you have a community energy project in mind - perhaps a solar array on the local community building or hall, or interest in solar-sharing via a microgrid or community battery, then come along and hear from our panel of local experts about how their communities got involved in the expanding field of community energy," she said.
"We encourage the community to be ambitious in their thinking about renewables."
The Grampians Community Power Hub assists in identifying funding pathways, but communities willdrive the final delivery of the projects.
Ms Debrett said the process could be slow and complex to see a project to completion, but it was exciting.
"There is a lot of hunger out there and I think people are waking up to the enormous benefits of renewable energy, the importance of helping the state reach its emissions reduction targets and contributing to stabilising the grid," she said.
"The more we have distributed energy and storage capacity, the more we take the heat off the grid in terms of stabilising that distributed energy.
"It also builds resilience in communities. Having a community battery for instance makes it more independent in the case of bushfires."
Register for the free online for the free Community Energy Forum from 7.30pm to 8.30pm on September 29.
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