Parliamentary Enquiry into Community Energy projects

Australian Fabians Vic Branch
In conjunction with
LEAN (Labor Environment Action Network)

 

14th October, 2016

Executive Officer

Economic, Education, Jobs & Skills Committee

Parliament House

Spring Street

East Melbourne 3002

Parliamentary Enquiry into Community Energy projects

An interactive workshop using a powerful electronic meeting system (ZING) with a wireless keyboard on each table to capture ideas and comments was used in preparation of this submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into Community Energy Projects. Thirty people expressed interest from both organisations, with twenty in attendance. Follow-up comments were received in finalising this report.

This workshop addressed the following issues:

  1. The potential role of co-operatives, mutual societies, social enterprises and community ownership in the energy sector;
  2. The benefits of community owned energy programs;
  3. The best ways to encourage the uptake of community energy projects;
  4. The ability to expand community energy projects outside of solar and wind power;
  5. The best practice models of other Australian and international jurisdictions for supporting community ownership options in the energy sector;
  6. The challenges to community energy projects in metropolitan areas;  and
  7. Ways to support communities to surmount challenges to community owned energy in metropolitan areas.

An executive summary was prepared to collate the various views expressed under each heading, but a full record of those views is included as an audit trail to inform those conclusions.

Fabian Workshop Convenor:

Max Dumais

Mobile

0438213532

Email

max@aheadofthegame.com.au


Executive Summary

Introduction

Community energy initiatives represent an opportunity for local communities to ensure their own energy security by investing in energy projects that use the energy resources most prevalent in their local area, and contribute though the grid to stabilising energy supply and distributing the energy risks that can occur through over centralisation of supply.

Leadership and commitment

Community energy initiatives are not well founded just on vague 'village green' notions of community. This movement requires political commitment to repower the country with renewable energy as suggested in The Homegrown Power Plan put together by Get Up and Solar Citizens. It requires commitment and leadership at legislator and regulator level as much as at a community level.

A financial foundation

A sound financial foundation as reflected in a realistic feed-in tariff rate, together with a substantial initial capital base or ongoing financial agreement with a suitable funding body is a commercial reality. Government needs to consider its role in ensuring such a financial foundation is in place as more initiatives emerge so that false hopes are not raised and aspirations can be managed realistically. 

Community engagement

Community energy projects require community engagement which can stem from any number of drivers: changing attitudes coupled with dissatisfaction with the current arrangements, seeking expressions of innovation, a belief founded on the notion that 'small is beautiful', a preparedness to take in hand and address concerns about the waste of energy and community pride inherent in building an exemplary role model together. However, in those examples where community energy initiatives have gained real traction like Moreland Energy Foundation or Mirboo North there also needs to be a sound capital foundation followed up by a clear vision, leadership, competence and capacity on the part of those involved. 

Community investment and use of profits

Community energy models bring with them a range of benefits. They introduce resilience and flexibility to the system as well as providing a transition strategy towards decentralised distribution in the delivery of power. In times of mounting job losses, particularly for over fifties who bring a wealth of experience, these initiatives provide the promise of a local investment return and local jobs which can offer some degree of economic and social resilience. Where excess profits can find their way into Community Foundations or Funds for community purpose this provides an added incentive and community building capacity. Governments need to consider expediting tax exemptions and deductibility to support and underwrite the establishment of such Foundations. 

Advantages of local involvement

Being locally administered this type of initiative can better ensure earlier responsiveness as a more localised care approach to counter the problems inherent in allowing a run-down in maintenance. Localisation brings with it the ability through community energy generation to draw on available local resources and offers advantages of scale. It also offers the option of maintaining diversity in the forms of energy generation. Community driven entrepreneurship and innovation, however, requires stable, consistent and reliable reimbursement policies or incentives to survive. Community energy initiatives should be highlighted in government promotion of innovation and enterprise at all levels and an appropriate government agency charged with the support and encouragement of such initiatives. 

Planning for transition

While community energy initiatives provide part of the answer as part of a transitional strategy, we will still need clear rules and prices for those people who remain connected to the grid, even those who may be self-sufficient with their own onsite generation. There is a price for maintaining the grid and price for the power that may be required when emergencies may arise, and it may be that a national spot price could be used. A clear transition strategy needs to be addressed as part of current government thinking at all levels which embraces both corporate and community providers. 

Role of local government

Local government involvement is crucial, but the capacity and competence varies across local government areas. For this reason a deliberate campaign of engagement which includes the building of awareness and education to challenge the mindset of councillors needs to be initiated and funded as a plank in the roll-out strategy. 

Metropolitan issues

The issues relating to the rollout of renewable energy based on community engagement in the metropolitan area deserves special attention as there are inherently distinct challenges. For instance, the number of rental properties with transient populations is a challenge, together with the views and agenda of property developers who are responsible for building the physical infrastructure of communities and who also need to be brought on board.  

The need for planning

Heat sinks caused by lack of shade and impermeable surfaces in built up areas can contribute to heat build-up and raises design and planning issues. The deployment of suitable planning regulations, building codes and other requirements require consideration by planning departments at State and Local government levels and also in their considerations with bodies representing property developers and real estate management. 

Accommodating diversity

Aside from questions of scale and greater demand in cities, communicating across a broader diversity of languages and cultures requires deliberate and considered attention. Resources need to be directed to communicating the value of community energy solutions across a diversity of ethnic interests to ensure they are empowered to engage in such initiatives. 

Addressing urban concerns

The lower costs of transmission, in relative terms, given the density of urban population areas can make projects less financially viable and attractive. Positive steps, including targeted subsidies, should be considered to ensure any necessary incentives may apply. Appropriate institutions should be funded to monitor and govern renewable energy programs at a community level as required. 

Specific Recommendations

State initiatives could include:

  • The State government developing a clear energy transitional strategy through all affected departments and portfolios and supported through each level of government, as well as engaging with both corporate and community providers.
  • The State government introducing a permanent State Agency equipped to support local communities in initiating and managing community climate projects. This agency should facilitate access to technical experts so that communities can complete feasibility studies to determine the technical and financial practicality of their local community energy project proposal.
  • Equipping a State Agency to provide ongoing troubleshooting and development expertise to communities beyond their initial set up stage.
  • Providing State financial support to communities in the initial stages of the project in the form of grants and State backed loans.
  • Facilitating access to other funding bodies as required.
  • State government initiated investment advice to communities as to a diverse range of initiatives for reinvestment of any income generated by community energy initiatives either back into further energy projects or into other forms of community development.
  • State Government expediting support for tax exemptions and deductibility in establishing and underwriting a Community Energy Foundation movement to fund community capacity building. 
  • Ensuring state-wide energy infrastructure that supports community energy initiatives, such as linking grid infrastructure to enable energy sharing and balancing the load between communities. 
  • Supporting a state-wide financial infrastructure such as a realistic feed in tariff that encourages communities to invest in their own energy projects.
  • Giving special attention to including rental properties with transient populations in community energy projects with both advice and financial assistance. This will inevitably mean the inclusion of rental property owners, and property developers in both regulatory regimes and in the rollout process.
  • Tasking a State Agency to promote and encourage Community Energy initiatives, including communicating the value of community energy solutions across a diversity of social and ethnic interests to ensure they are empowered to engage in such initiatives.
  • In conclusion, the ongoing development of generation, storage and delivery technologies need to be considered as to how these can be managed and harnessed within the context of energy delivery by communities. Examples from around the world and at home need to form the incentive for further roll-out of successful and innovative solutions. Governments need to marshal a commitment to providing incentives and regulatory assistance to this significant contribution to dealing with climate change, here and around the world.

Conclusion

  • In conclusion, the ongoing development of generation, storage and delivery technologies need to be considered as to how these can be managed and harnessed within the context of energy delivery by communities. Examples from around the world and at home need to form the incentive for further roll-out of successful and innovative solutions. Governments need to marshal a commitment to providing incentives and regulatory assistance to this significant contribution to dealing with climate change, here and around the world. 

Preamble

Thirty representatives accepted invitations from the Australian Fabians (Vic Branch) and LEAN (Labor Environment Action Network) to take part in a three-hour workshop to specifically address the questions raised in the scoping brief of the Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry in Community Energy Projects. What follows are the responses as captured on the night and collated from the participants own contributions

The executive summary was the effort of a few people in the completion of its final draft. The preparedness of the Enquiry to extend the time for this submission was greatly appreciated.

1.         The potential of co-operatives, mutual societies, social enterprises and community ownership within the energy sector:

  • Great opportunity to build a community through co-operation which leads to pride and independence as well as economic benefits.
  • Social currency is as important as financial currency in building communities that need to stick together in hard times. Easier to get community endorsement and commitment in tough times as well as good if the community is engaged from the outset.
  • There may be some generational differences that fit different models of organisation and governance differently.
  • Social enterprises could create a financial incentive for further investment and more effective decision making. They offer a third way to capitalism and socialism that is driven by a common vision and returns on mutual investment.
  • Issue of selling back to the grid and tariff policies that may inhibit that potential.
  • Requirements are leadership, trust and a model framework than can be replicated to generate confidence within community groups. Confidence in the leadership group is also essential - generates trust.
  • Necessary to have a workable commercial model. It's unlikely that community groups starting from a "clean slate" will generate many real outcomes.
  • Have big aspirations. Create an "empire building" vision. Sometimes it's necessary to instruct a  group to "just do something" - make the first step.
  • Just one more sales job. Doorknock enthusiastically and sign them up.
  • Empowers the community to problem solve, but remember people start with solving the problems that they feel they have the capacity to solve. Requires building more problem solving capacities slowly and developing trust within the group. Needs fairly tightly drawn parameters to begin.
  • Use participatory democracy methods to reach consensus - as appropriate to a particular proposal. Co-operation has wider ramifications for social and creative development
  • A gathering of minds in a small community can lead to unexpected ideas and motivation for new thinking and new industry.
  • Agreement over management and decision making can be difficult. The potential is there for all options of organisation. The issue is getting agreement to work together.
  • Ability to ensure that communities enjoy the benefits of profits when there is an increase in energy prices together with the ability to use profits for non-energy purposes as well.
  • Community ownership allows for the ability to build an energy source from local resources and for local needs with more control over distribution; however management amongst community can be difficult.
  • Creation of interconnection by refocusing on community and taking  an active role in the future and in energy in particular.
  • Remove reliance on large corporates and large assets for distribution (which have large carbon footprints) and can build local resilience in the regional community

2.         Benefits community owned energy programs offer:

  • Community owned energy initiatives contribute to a stronger, more resilient, distributed energy system and can be an important step along the way to a transition from centralised to distributed power delivery.
  • A number of relatively small locally owned and managed systems can provide increased resilience when combined with other energy infrastructure e.g. Gas turbines.
  • Builds human capital, community cohesion and mutual social support and allows community self-direction and a degree of economic resilience.
  • They could address some of the needs of burgeoning numbers of self-employed ABN s being registered across local governments (some at 500% increase) and also create a cross generational focus of interest within
  • Flexibility and responsiveness - creates the opportunity to build systems with diverse generation technologies i.e. wind power with micro-hydro with solar and bio-digestion in all linked through a "smart grid" network.
  • Allows the community to have some control over the type of service and product that suits the demographics/cohort. It's helpful to get a broad suite of business models so there are many templates on offer for new initiatives which are adaptable to the renewable energy sources available to local communities - e.g. coastal communities can build in wave power, mountain communities hydro etc.
  • It could provide flexible pricing that supports the various socio-economic levels within the community and supports them as they charge for each household. Keeps money in the local community with profits distributed locally.
  • The energy options could be sourced from local resources which could contribute to a better and/or more direct way of managing environmental impact (local management would have immediate insight into what damage might happen - with expert input and deliberative decision-making)
  • Government failed to stop gold plating and therefore should pick up the tab. All solar panels etc to be financed by local government and paid through rates.
  • Helpful to consider a community energy project as risk mitigation for energy security. This idea can capture the imagination of the communities concerned and wider policy initiatives. A number of smaller systems and networks provide resilience in terms of extreme weather in a time of climate change.
  • Allows for control of costs, upkeep of technical structures, distribution, quality control, safety and design sustainability and engenders local accountability for long term maintenance.
  • Identifying the real costs of current energy production including cost of carbon ( climate change) pollution, health issues etc will make community owned programs more financially viable and if all these costs were included clean energy would be the cheaper option.
  • Sense of personal contribution to addressing climate change and an increased sense of community. Can provide an opportunity to participate even if the community is a partner rather than a full owner - no need to miss out, various models could work.
  • Can build skills and opportunities locally around local human capital
  • Builds awareness of environmental issues through education and training, which leads to local employment.
  • Potential for combined grid and off grid systems and addressing the large cost of the end of the grid communities. Decentralised distribution systems can avoid both monopolisation and can prevent mass blackouts etc.
  • Scale at a local level enables more precise science, therefore wastage and efficiency can be better reviewed and contained with greater security of supply.

3.            How best to encourage the uptake of community energy projects:

  • Set up a Local Energy Foundation and run supporting energy and sustainability workshops. Fund financial grants or loans with financial incentives to run trials and case studies for local communities and demonstration facilities.
  • Leadership - make it easy, attractive, social and that enables from the top and is also reflected at the local level. Support the local leadership group and identify and support the early adopters.
  • Regulation will be required to achieve a low emission objective ( a price on carbon) Re-introduce a carbon tax. A substantial carbon cost would be both an incentive and a major benefit.
  • Create 'How to' manuals together with associated training programs to support community energy projects.
  • Place an emphasis on local energy security.
  • Nothing happens until you make it happen. Hold local meetings with offers of support to the leadership group. Knock on hundreds of doors and spread enthusiasm. Mass publicity with a press release from the Mayor urging people to sign up. The town or suburb needs EVERYONE on board. Newspaper ads, outdoor signs and letterboxing with wording expressed in terms of the readers interests.
  • Build externalities into the real pricing of centralised energy supply. Increase the solar subsidy.
  • Engage the local government agencies and use community participatory processes to develop future energy supplies.
  • Set up a state-wide community energy "Help Desk" online so that people are not overcome by technical difficulties.
  • Demonstrate that a valuable outcome is possible, desirable and deliverable. Promote the spill over benefits to the community of a community financial asset and let them decide what they can do with any profit from their asset.
  • Charlie Perkins once said, "Never intellectualize further than you can emotionally carry people" Applies here.
  • Human team catalyst: e.g. Men's Health initiative running evening discussions across the country and in city communities to inform and to motivate interest. Target groups that are most vulnerable to energy cost increases such as poor, elderly and young to attend community meetings and build stakeholder engagement.
  • Governments at Federal, State and local levels to market the idea across the country.
  • Encourage letters to the local paper to promote interest in local projects
  • Get a government with the guts to back real change in this area.
  • There is a big need for a single National Grid strategy and policy with regulation to cover this. National regulation of the market is essential but the federation structure makes this difficult.
  • Recruit legal professionals and government bureaucrats who know how to properly advise local communities and stakeholders.
  • Better understand human behaviour and market drivers given the energy and sustainability context.
  • Provide accessibility to environmental and energy data that leads to a better understanding of current energy costs/breakdown and undertake a strategic business plan incorporating local and regional energy options.
  • Undertake local energy and sustainability opportunity assessments (economic, social, environmental based)

4.         What else can be done to expand community energy projects aside from solar and wind power:

  • Follow the development of Battery technology. Lots are being developed beyond Lithium Ion.
  • Resource an investigation/audit process for each community.
  • Introduce and mandate for low energy public transport.
  • Institute support for local neighbourhood organisations e.g. similar to the Neighbourhood Watch model and provide funding along the lines of the Bendigo Bank and its community fund initiatives model.
  • Micro hydro solutions; community bio digesters for green waste; smart appliances; smart grids; battery storage break through.
  • The unrecognised opportunity is in demand management. Reduce the demand to make the replacement task easier. The immediate target should be energy efficiency.
  • Harness bioenergy from solid waste and sanitation using composting toilets for methane and compost. Doorknock and sign up everyone in the town with Councils collecting all food scraps and organic waste as in Nillumbik.
  • Grey water can be separated and stored in multi-stories to generate power.
  • Explore geothermal options. Research and development through the CSIRO to discover other state research centres of other sources of power like tidal or geothermal.
  • Provide grants for Victorian research facilities to collaborate with foreign and interstate research institutions.
  • Hold energy trials within communities and provide financial support for entrepreneurial pursuits in the energy sector.
  • Provide access to environmental data to support further investigation.
  • Introduce impellers into the water supply.
  • Build technology to capture energy with absorbing roads and footpaths

5.         Some best practice models from interstate or overseas for supporting community energy ownership options:

  • Moreland Energy Foundation. Its vision is to facilitate an active, inspired community tackling climate change with sustainable energy solutions by working with households, businesses, community groups and governments on innovative approaches to implementing sustainable energy supply and reducing energy use. Its values include innovation, honesty, respect, resilience, and team work.
  • Yarra Energy Foundation (http://www.yef.org.au/) An independent, for-purpose organisation with a huge ambition – to achieve zero carbon future in the City of Yarra. Their goals is to engage and inspire people who live and do business in the City of Yarra to take practical steps towards this goal. While financed by a financial agreement with the City, it is looking to expand its financial capacity in order to expand its delivery of services.
  • Totally Renewable Yackandandah community Sustainable Energy Project. Rethinking electricity use is a key initiative for the proactive management team of Yackandandah Health as they announce the launch of a program incorporating dramatic reductions in their power demands and the installation of 90kW solar panels. Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) is a community group aiming to switch Yackandandah to be 100% renewable by 2022, partnering with Yackandandah Health in this innovative energy venture.
  • Roadmap 2050 (EU) has set itself a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% when compared to 1990 levels by 2050. The Energy Roadmap 2050 explores the transition of the energy system in ways that would be compatible with this greenhouse gas reductions target while also increasing competitiveness and security of supply. To achieve these goals, significant investments need to be made in new low-carbon technologies, renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart grid infrastructure- which is essential in developing a resilient network. Because investments are made for a period of 20 to 60 years, policies that promote a stable business climate which encourages low-carbon investments must begin to be made today.
  • Zero carbon Britain 2030: Rethinking the Future describes a scenario in which the UK has risen to the challenges of the 21st century. It is 2030. It has acknowledged its historical responsibility as a long-industrialised nation and made its contribution to addressing climate change by reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions rapidly to net zero.
  • Lake Learmonth piggery: waste from 18,00 pigs put into a $1m Italian bio digester funded by EPA Vic. No waste to local lake and $500k of fertilisers and composts pa.
  • Scotland Tidal power  www.tidalenergy.eu/scottish-tidal-energy.html The Crown estate and Scottish government are behind a £4bn project to build a number of tidal power sites around the Orkney islands and the Pentland Firth, expected to generate the same amount of power as a nuclear power station. That's 1.2GW of green energy - enough to power up to 750,000 homes. 
    Some estimates have suggested that a combination of tidal and wave power from the area could produce up to 60GW of power. That would represent 10 times Scotland's annual electricity usage. Other studies suggest one-third of the UK's total electricity needs could be met by tidal power alone.
  • Eden Project UK. (http://www.edenproject.com/ )An educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how to work towards a better future. Nestled in a huge crater in Cornwall, UK, its massive Biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions and stories which serve as a backdrop to its striking contemporary gardens which form a venue for summer concerts and exciting year round family events.
  • Powershop (www.powershop.com.au ) energy retailer here in Australia is giving rebate to those clients who are generating solar inputs over and above the regulated feed in tariff by selling green power options . Currently you can by Green Power off them at 35.8 cents (early order) and yet only get 6.5 cents for your solar generated input. However Powershop introduced a new program known as Your Neighbourhood Solar as a chance for customers without solar to support those with solar with a higher feed-in tariff. The plan sold out (100,000 units) and it included a 4 cents/kWh premium and delivered an eventual $9.66 to solar panel holders. It's an initiative any power company could adopt.
  • RenewEconomy magazine – Giles Parkinson. www.reneweconomy.com.au
  • The World energy council (www.worldenergy.org)  is the principal impartial network of leaders and practitioners promoting an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all.
  • Formed in 1923, the Council is the UN-accredited global energy body, representing the entire energy spectrum, with more than 3000 member organisations located in over 90 countries and drawn from governments, private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy-related stakeholders. The World Energy Council informs global, regional and national energy strategies by hosting high-level events, publishing authoritative studies, and working through its extensive member network to facilitate the world’s energy policy dialogue.
  • Danish energy authority – Innovative, Efficient and Sustainable. (https://stateofgreen.com) The Danish Energy Model has shown that through persistent and active energy policy with ambitious renewable energy goals, enhanced energy efficiency and support for technical innovation and industrial development, it is possible to sustain significant economic growth and a high standard of living, while reducing fossil fuel dependency and mitigating climate change. Denmark has reduced the adjusted greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 pct. since 1990 – and is set to achieve 40%. by 2020. Denmark has the highest contribution of non-hydro renewables in any electricity system worldwide: 46%. in 2013. In 2014, almost 40 pct. of the Danish electricity consumption was based on wind power; by 2020 this figure will be 50%.
  • Macedon ranges Sustainability Group (http://mrsgonline.org.au/ ) - Black forest mill solar project, Woodend. The Black Forest Timber Mill in Woodend is to be powered by solar energy thanks to a $100,000 investment by the Andrews Labor Government to support for the installation of a 30 kilowatt solar system at the mill by the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group (MRSG). MRSG is a not-for-profit organisation with about 350 members whose vision is to create and nurture sustainability by promoting local solutions and prosperity across the Macedon Ranges. MRSG will own the solar system and be responsible for project managing its installation, operation and maintenance. The solar system is expected to provide sufficient capacity to meet the needs of mill tenants Artisans of the Mill, which shapes furniture, and TimberSearch, which sources and sells recycled timber.
  • Northern rivers and Enova community Energy solar. Enova Community Energy Ltd (www.enovaenergy.com.au/ ) is providing a unique opportunity for participation in building Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy retailing and technology business.  Following a successful capital raise in late 2015, Enova is currently building its operations. As a social enterprise, Enova Energy has been formed by local residents of the Northern Rivers region to focus on delivering environmental and community benefits as well as making returns to community investors.
  • City of Lismore, Northern-eastern NSW. Australia’s first solar farms to be co-owned by local government and the community could be completed by the end of the 2015, with the Lismore City Council set to launch a campaign to attract investors to the project in north-eastern NSW – a flagship project building on Lismore’s plans to become the first regional council to be 100 per cent renewable by 2023. This model is simple and low-risk with clear results, which is attractive for local government because it provides surety for the community and for investors. Lismore is launching an innovation in how councils and community do business, with both financial and clean energy returns.
  • Tamworth anaerobic digestion installation produces 67000kg of biogas , mainly methane gas and carbon dioxide per annum using waste from Steggles chicken farm.
  • Teys Australia (http://business.nab.com.au/teys-australia-invests-60-million-to-reduce-its-carbon-footprint-14067/)  has invested $60 million to reduce its carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels, cutting around 113,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. Teys Australia, the second largest beef processing and cattle feeding company in Australia, has invested in upgrading its wastewater treatment plants at Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Beenleigh and Rockhampton. The changes cut around 113 thousand tonnes of equivalent carbon emissions annually from the atmosphere, which is the same as removing 38,000 cars from Australian roads every single year.
  • Agrow Awards Curtain raiser UK (https://agrowawards.com/ )
  • Tasmania Hydro. Stored hydro can be used to create electricity to stabilise the grid and store energy.
  • Swedish waste to energy initiatives.(http://www.swedishcleantech.se/)  Innovative Waste-to-Energy Program is so effective that Sweden has literally run out of rubbish. The country’s waste management and recycling programs are second to none as only four percent of the nation’s waste ends up in landfills.
  • In order to continue fuelling the waste-to-energy factories that provide electricity to a quarter of a million homes and 20% of the entire country’s district heating, Sweden is now resorting to importing trash from the landfills of other European countries. In fact, those countries are paying Sweden to get rid of a source of viable fuel they themselves produced so that Sweden can continue to have the energy output they need, instead of utilising the same waste as an energy source at home. 

6.         Challenges in introducing and supporting community energy projects in metropolitan areas:

  • Questions of scale and greater demand than rural areas such as the surface area ratio of people to density.
  • Local government must be involved, however community capacity and competence varies across local government areas and a regional approach may prove more effective.
  • Number of rental properties work against full engagement. Renters and transient population works against ongoing participation.
  • The agendas and conservatism of property developers may be an issue.
  • Determining just what we mean by "The Community" in a metro area. Language/cultural barriers together with a lack of neighbourhood cohesion can work against community development.
  • Infrastructure which may be lacking within the outer suburbs – which are poorly developed and a challenge to setting up an energy community.
  • In some suburbs, street trees reduce the local temperature. Less cooling needed. Question as to how to replicate this across all such suburbs.
  • Asphalt roads and pavements have two negative effects on urban environments. Firstly, dark surfaces absorb heat and create a heat island effect and secondly these surfaces are water- impermeable and prevent soil from absorbing water with negative effects on the growth of trees. Melbourne City report revealed that trees reduce the local temperature load significantly.
  • Shading by neighbouring properties is a design and planning issue.
  • Squandering the productive use of embedded energy in demolished buildings.
  • Reducing demand; refining actual use in the home
  • Ignorance of the local environment, Trees, etc.
  • The cost of energy storage and back up – e.g Tesla batteries etc.
  • Issues about the management and administration of the community project including pricing and payment between suppliers and consumers.
  • More anonymity and less dependence on community in urban areas.
  • Less transmission costs makes it less financially viable particularly where there is a cost of retrofitting existing infrastructure.
  • Current regulations favour the incumbent transmission and generators.
  • Establishing effective community foundations is a challenge in larger, more anonymous communities.

7.         Some ways to overcome these challenges in metropolitan areas:

  • Need to think about the ownership of both property and energy systems
  • Finding the land, for instance, through use of roof gardens
  • Setting up local structures which are along familiar lines - like Neighbourhood Watch.
  • Start small and manageable, set up a model in one suburb as a trial.
  • Get community leaders on side from the outset.
  • Education and awareness building – aimed at changing mindsets
  • Local council engagement and investment in the professional development of Councillors on these issues.
  • Land use planning that adopts best practice as part of developer requirements with building codes that include energy elements. Deploy planning regulations/codes/requirements as necessary
  • Nationalise all energy again. Take it back to where it should be.
  • Create appropriate institutions to govern the programmes and renewable infrastructure.
  • Incentivise clean energy power bills.

8.         Major ongoing considerations:

  • Building on the capacity for energy variety and local context.
  • Private interests and private developers need some form of regulatory control
  • Role of proper tariff levels and the need to make any vested interests in changing them transparent - such as the need to deal with political donations/vested interests.
  • World class sustainability should be built into new estates and apartment developments.
  • It must be led politically. Local groups must come together and lead their politicians through participatory and democratic organisations.
  • Successful projects developed and run in the country communities should be used as an inspiration and model for city folk and metropolitan initiatives.
  • It's important to develop long term strategies for getting this done.
  • Clear goals and objectives with the national network need to be defined and legislation enacted to support those goals.
  • Need to be sure that we focus on case studies of successful individual projects and not just the individual technologies.
  • Community education, institutions, economic benefits and costs and physical space should be considered, because these are the external factors community-run projects will face.
  • We need legislation to enable and promote local production, distribution, sale and growth of community energy initiatives.
  • It's important to relate the benefits of community energy infrastructure to Climate Change and Government policies/RET, etc.
  • Financial incentives through carbon pricing, and feed-in tariff increases are necessary.
  • Focus should be on both the supply and demand sides.
  • The future of developments in battery storage technology and heat storage for conversion to base-load power cannot be underestimated.