Council welcomes new community power hub

A solar panel on a roof.

The Yarra Ranges and wider outer-east will be home to more community-based renewable energy project, thanks to the formation of the Yarra Valley Community Power Hub.

The hub – a partnership between Healesville CoRE, Yarra Glenergy, Clean Energy Nillumbik, Upper Yarra Community Power, Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association, Bunyip Renewable Action Group, Eastern Climate Action – was launched in late-August at a virtual event by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio.

The new organisation, which is supported by industry partner Komo Energy and funded by Sustainability Victoria, will develop small-to-medium renewable energy projects across the community in coming years.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Fiona McAllister, congratulated the group on their launch and the hard work that brought them together.

“Congratulations to Healesville CoRE for leading this successful grant application on behalf of several community renewable energy groups in the region,” she said.

“It’s quite remarkable how a group formed only four years ago has evolved to be such a community leader, and congratulations on the other groups for joining the Community Power Hub.

“The changes and shift that is being led by the groups here today – and others – is changing our future.

“From little things, big things grow – today is evidence of this.

“For example, the incredible outcome of the deliberative process we led in Yarra Glen, that allowed community to choose how to spend $1M, resulted in Yarra Glenergy. It’s a reminder to me about what can be achieved with the right support from Council and Government. Thank you to all who prove this to be true, time and time again.

Cr McAllister said that Council would continue the works outlined in its Liveable Climate Plan, with a goal of total renewable energy use by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2040.

“We’ve been working for many years to improve sustainability across Council,” she said.

“At last count, we’ve installed 51 solar systems on Council buildings, creating a massive one megawatt power generating capacity. We’re now supporting the installation of systems onto community facilities, such as preschools and sporting clubs, and this will see emissions reduce year-by-year.

“A direct result of this work is that some of our buildings run through much of the year at no energy cost due to the power generated, and we’ve got many more projects in motion – such as battery energy storage for community facilities, solar farms on closed landfill sites and our recent collaboration with other Councils to source all electricity for our street lighting renewably from wind farms in Western Victoria.

“We’re looking at having the remaining Council power usage transferred over to this 100% renewable contract by July 2022.

“There’s lots more to do, but it feels like the pace and willingness of all has quickened.

“My heartfelt gratitude and thank you to all of you who lead the way – your persistent, inclusive, practical yet visionary approach to making a difference to our planet, our communities and sustaining this country is a gift to us all. Congratulations to all the groups involved in the Community Power Hub Project. I’m excited to see what’s next.”

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