Last week the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network visited Gippsland to see what was happening on the ground as we all transition away from coal. They saw and heard quite a number of positive stories of actions happening now and some that are planned. I was able to present a short brief on behalf of Baw Baw Sustainability Network along these lines:
We’re a community group formed in 2007 working to address climate change through two main areas, being energy efficiency and local food and gardening. We have experience in home energy assessments using the latest technology in thermal imaging and air infiltration testing.
We’re also partnering with BZE on a zero emissions project for the shire of Baw Baw. We will reach 100% renewables for our stationary energy needs by 2027. We have baseline data, have conducted the first workshop and are now preparing a transition plan.
Putting it all together…….we are planning a detailed technical and feasibility study into a large renewable energy project in the local area which would be open for community investors as well as providing a regular income stream for a social inclusion fund which will drive an energy retrofit program in the homes of disadvantaged people in our area. Capturing negawatts is the low hanging fruit in the transition to a zero emissions future but the need for up front capital expenditure is a very significant barrier for people to overcome and for low income households it is just a pipe dream. The fund will provide zero interest loans which can be paid back through the savings on energy bills.
The benefits of our project include better health through better housing, local employment in goods and services in the fledgling home retrofit and renewables industry, long term savings on energy bills, mitigation of climate change risk and all the benefits that flow from the reduction in air pollution of particulates and heavy metals from our current power generation.
This is a win win proposal ripe for an injection of funds to supplement the countless volunteer hours being spent. There is certainly a lot happening in Gippsland, as there needs to be, to ensure our community prospers through these turbulent times.