MCMILLAN Russell Broadbent MP visited Wonthaggi yesterday with some very exciting news for a local community group focused on promoting renewable energy.
Community leaders and local residents gathered at the State Coal Mine to mark the achievement of further milestones for the Energy Innovation Co-operative, with Mr Broadbent announcing that the Co-op has received Federal Government approval as a Registered Environmental Organisation (REO).
The announcement marks the culmination of almost two years of effort by the co-op, requiring rule changes and approvals from its membership, from Business Victoria, from two government departments, and from two Federal Ministers.
The REO status allows individual donors to claim a tax deduction for donations to the Co-op and allows philanthropic organisations to make direct grants and donations to the Co-op for eligible projects.
In making the announcement, Mr Broadbent congratulated all of those present for their commitment to the Co-op and wished them every success for the future.
“What you have achieved in receiving this DGR 1 status is a credit to the hard work put in by Co-op members.
“It should encourage donations from more individuals and philanthropic organisations toward the environmental projects that are underway and those that are to come in the future,” he said.
Also attending the gathering were Bass Coast Community Foundation directors Pam Cameron and Melissa Hayes, along with EO David Wall, delivering the 2017 component of the foundation’s $60,000 commitment to the co-op, which can now go straight to the co-op’s newly registered Public Fund.
Bass Coast Shire Mayor Cr Pam Rothfield, Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari and South Gippsland Shire councillor Andrew McEwen, all of whom have expressed support for the co-op’s plans also attended.
“We are delighted that the Energy Innovation Co-operative has received this status, which will assist them in attracting funds to support their wonderfully worthwhile ongoing community energy projects,” Cr Rothfield said.
Chair of the Energy Innovation Co-op Moragh Mackay spoke about the co-op’s progress, calling the REO status approval a “major milestone” for the group.
“We really are going from strength to strength at this stage,” she said, thanking Mr Broadbent on behalf of the co-op for his assistance in speaking up for the application as it went through the Federal Government’s processes, and thanking Bass Coast Community Foundation for their “early and unwavering support” in the development of the co-op’s projects.
Director and secretary of the Energy Innovation Co-operative Susan Davies says the Co-op’s current fundraising focus is its ‘Southern CORE Fund’ which will support not-for-profit community groups to install solar PV systems or energy efficiency measures on the buildings they run.
“Rising energy bills and the fundraising needed to pay them are an increasing headache for such groups,” Susan said.
“The Southern CORE fund will provide no interest loans to enable immediate installation and bill savings. As the fund builds, small grants will be provided.”
She said income from the co-op’s ‘Old Energy-New Energy’ project, which will put up to 99kW of solar PV and 25kWh at the State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi, will be utilised for this purpose.