Local energy: MP wants community ownership in every new wind and solar project

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A parliamentary committee will undertake an investigation into an independent MP’s plan to support community-owned clean energy projects in the Australian region, and it could be a plan even Barnaby Joyce can support.

New legislation is being proposed by Independent Indi MP Helen Haines and has been referred to the House Standing Committee on Environment and Energy for consideration.

The legislation would establish a new federal government entity, the Australian Local Energy Agency, modeled on the existing Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which would be responsible for providing financial support and advice to energy projects led by the community.

The agency is part of a larger plan to increase community ownership in new clean energy projects and would be associated with a mandate for all new large-scale clean energy developments to offer a stake in the project to members of the local community.

Through the proposed legislation, community ownership would become a feature of every new wind and solar project built in Australia and would require project developers to offer local residents the opportunity to take up to 20 percent of the project capital.

With an additional support program of $ 467 million, the proposed Australian Local Electricity Agency (ALPA) would offer underwriting support for new community-owned renewable energy projects, with an estimated budget of around $ 50 million per year for ten years.

The agency would provide grants or loans to those seeking to establish “local power plants” in regional regions of Australia, with grants of up to $ 500,000 per year for five years.

the commission opened a public consultation process on the proposed legislation and is accepting submissions from interested parties until July 9, with a public hearing scheduled for August.

Canberra-based community solar project developer SolarShare welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed legislation.

“Helen Haines was one of the biggest supporters of community energy and renewable energy in the Federal Parliament. It would be great to see a deluge of favorable submissions for the Australian Local Electricity Agency bill. Distributed generation and community-owned assets are a huge growth opportunity, which would be driven by Helen’s local power plan, ”SolarShare non-executive director David Maywald told RenewEconomy.

“The Local Electric Plan offers enormous benefits for regional communities and our environment. This would massively stimulate the nascent community-owned renewable energy sector. Hopefully this investigation by the Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy will get a clear message: people want more renewable energy, they want cheaper electricity and they want the energy transition to generate local jobs.

Haines urged those interested in energy projects led and owned by the development community in Australia to participate in the inquiry process, saying this represents an important step forward in sharing the benefits of clean energy projects with those regional areas.

“More than 100 people and organizations submitted proposals for the development of my local diet plan, which formed the basis of my ALPA bills. I would like to see over 100 submissions to this survey to show the government that regional Australia is serious about the potential of renewable energy, ”Haines said.

“In regional Australia, renewables are being built at a lightning pace, but we don’t see enough local jobs, we don’t see enough local supply and we see all the benefits going to cities, rather than to cities. stay here they are generated.

“The idea behind ALPA is simple: every electron generated in the regions should be money going back into the pockets of ordinary people in the region, not overseas. Every spin of a wind turbine and every drop of sunlight should generate income that stays in our communities, ”added Haines.

Haines pointed to the benefits generated by a community energy program run by the Victorian government, which found that state government support for the development of new community-owned generators provided $ 13 in profit for every $ 1 spent by the government.

Haines added that the newly resettled National Party leader Barnaby Joyce has indicated that the proposal for a dedicated federal agency to support community energy projects could gain his support.

“Yesterday I met the new Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and told him that my plan should be adopted as Nationals party policy because it is good for farmers and good for Australians in the region,” he said. Haines said last week.

“I followed this up with meetings with Minister of Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and Minister of Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor,” Haines added.

“What I tell them is this is their opportunity. I urge them to support ALPA and truly make Australia the renewable powerhouse that it should be.


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