THE Energy Innovation Co-op welcomed federal shadow minister for climate change and environment, Mark Butler, and others to their solar development at the State Coal Mine on Wednesday morning.
He spoke to a large crowd after visiting the Energy Innovation Co-op’s solar and battery array at the mine.
Mr Butler congratulated the co-op and its partnering groups on their work locally and said it was clear that households, businesses, community groups and other organisations were going ahead with positive actions to address climate change and its consequences.
“But government policy matters, and the current Federal Government has failed. We are facing the now urgent threat of a climate emergency,” Mr Butler said.
He went on to outline some relevant Federal Labor policies, including its emissions reduction target, investment in community energy through its ‘Neighbourhood Renewables’ program, and battery subsidies for low and medium income households.
The co-op, along with its many partnering organisations, submitted a prospectus to the shadow minister at the meeting, outlining its existing and planned local activities, and requested funding support as one of the ‘Community Power Hubs’ which Federal Labor is planning to support across the country.
Fourteen other organisations so far have contributed supporting letters to the co-op’s request, including Landcare, Phillip Island Nature Parks, and Westernport Water.
Other partners who wrote in support include Ausnet Services, Mondo, Community Power Agency, and Co-operative Power – an up-and-coming community owned electricity retailer.
“We’ve seen significant progress in Victoria’s renewable energy sector under progressive State Government policies, with Victoria set to achieve its renewables target one year earlier than expected,” said co-op chair Moragh Mackay.
“Newly elected Bass state MP Jordan Crugnale [is] a supportive local member for the co-op and the region. But there is still so much more which needs to happen across the whole range of climate change
“We are heartened to hear from the Federal Labor party that they will be taking strong climate change and energy policies to the election.
“We are particularly pleased with the Neighbourhood Renewables program which is designed to strengthen community initiatives such as ours,” Ms Mackay said.
Bass Coast Shire mayor Cr Brett Tessari, who attended with other councillors and the new shire chief executive officer Ali Wastie, said it was a great opportunity to acknowledge the “really exciting and important work happening in Bass Coast with community renewable energy projects”.
“The Energy Innovation Co-operative is leading the way towards sustainable and totally renewable communities.
“Led by talented and passionate individuals, this group and many others are working tirelessly toward the goal of a more sustainable future and protecting our environment, a goal which council shares and is also driven to achieve,” said Cr Tessari.
A recent spate of phone calls from political parties to households across the region indicates a welcome political interest in the seat of Monash.
The Energy Innovation Co-op helps individuals and businesses through their Southern CORE (Community Owned Renewable Energy) initiative, install solar through interest-free loans and advice when selecting renewable products.
“The Energy Innovation Co-operative has no geographic limitations in its rules. We have been working in partnership with the Community Energy Hub in the Latrobe Valley and have recently been contracted by the Gippsland Climate Change Network and the State Government to develop a Renewable Energy Roadmap for Gippsland.”
The State Government helped fund the solar project at the mine with $240,000.
This led to the group purchasing 91kW of solar panels and 45kW of battery storage, which has recently completed construction.
These will power the mine’s cafe, lighting, mine water pumps and other accessories.