Farmers Support New Government Agency To Spread Renewable Energy Abundance | North Queensland Register
Dozens of community energy groups, along with the National Farmers’ Federation, have approved a bill that would help regional cities develop their own small-scale renewable projects.
The proposal submitted by the independent Indi MP Helen Haines to found the Australian Local Power Agency was examined in a parliamentary investigation to determine whether it was justified.
ALPA would support the development of community energy projects in regional Australia and would require large renewable projects to allow local residents to co-invest in development.
NFF chief economist Ash Salardini said at the moment that many of the benefits of the renewable energy sector have been deprived of the regions.
“The renewable energy sector is becoming an extractive industry – large projects create profits for companies in our capitals or abroad, and the energy is delivered to the capitals,” said Salardini.
“Farmers fully responsible for housing the infrastructure for the transition to renewables. Unfortunately, the way it is implemented is of little benefit to our communities.”
The ALPA bill would ensure rural communities, landowners and neighbors get a fair share of the investment, Salardini said, which would give the sector a social license and allay community concerns.
More than 20 community energy advocates presented evidence to the parliamentary committee in support of the bill.
James Jenkin, a member of Yackandandah’s Totally Renewable Committee, said the group’s various projects – including a community battery, a virtual power plant, and three microgrids – had cut utility bills across the village by $ 625,000 in three years.
“This bill can drive change in energy supply and put real people at the center of change,” said Jenkins.
Community Power Agency director Jarra Hicks said the bill could create a number of local benefits, such as:
“The ALPA law could magnify these results a thousand fold across the country,” said Dr. Hicks.
“As investment in renewable energy continues to boom, this presents a unique opportunity to create jobs, savings and income for regional Australia.
“We need to make sure that regional Australia, where renewable energy investments and development is happening, sees the long-term benefits.”
Ms. Haines said there was convincing evidence that the existing clean energy policy framework, based on ARENA and CEFC, is too focused on large projects, while there is a lack of medium-sized and community projects.
“[Community groups] described how they spend too much time fighting the existing system rather than being supported by it to take action against climate change in their communities, “said Ms. Haines.
“This does not allow regional Australians to use renewable energy and ensure that their communities reap the benefits.
“The message the committee heard loud and clear was that regional Australia needs the Australian Local Power Agency immediately.”
The submissions and evidence to the public hearing will be examined by the committee before it submits its final report.
The story of Farmers helping new government agencies to spread the wealth of renewable energy first appeared on Farm Online.