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Living Lightly column

Community Energy Project

By Cam Klose, Community Engagement for the community energy retailer project.

At a national level, climate change and energy policy is mired in a political quagmire. Rather than working to solve the greatest challenge facing our country and the world, leading politicians are more interested in scoring cheap political points.

A community energy initiative is currently underway in North East Victoria that will give communities back their power and provide a local solution to one of the most vexing issues facing the world.

Community energy offers an alternative to traditional energy generation that delivers expensive power and concentrates profits in the major centres or investors overseas.

Currently, Australians are paying more every year for dirty energy from the national electricity grid. Our energy grid is one of the most concentrated markets in the world, with three big players that both own the generation assets and retail the power to the customers.

In contrast, the community energy retailer is owned by the local community. It allows communities to take the power from the giant energy retailers.

The retailer will support local renewable energy projects, assisting communities to take the lead in tackling climate pollution and transitioning to a clean energy future. It also re-invests the profits back in the local community, creating local jobs and opportunities right here in the North East.

The project is born out of the Totally Renewable Yackandandah movement, where the town decided in 2014 that it would power itself with 100% renewable energy by 2022.

Key to this pledge is the creation of micro-grids. A micro-grid is a group of households with solar panels and batteries trade electricity amongst themselves, thus reducing their reliance on the larger energy grid, providing huge cost savings and reduction of carbon footprint.

The community energy retailer is vital to the creation of micro-grids, because under current regulations, all trading of electricity, even between households on a mini grid, must be facilitated by a licenced energy retailer.

This project is leading the country in a new system of energy that has people and community at the centre.

It charts a new way forward for communities to realise their energy goals, create local jobs, and offer cleaner, cheaper energy to our region.

If you would like to know more about the community energy retailer project visit the website at www.communityenergyretailer.com.