(an edited version first published in the Bass Coast Post)
It will help if those bigger new proposals generate a “social licence” as well as electricity. That means working actively with the community as projects are developed. Locals know things about their landscape that technical engineers might miss. They need to be consulted and their interests considered over the long term.
Bald Hills Windfarm provides an ongoing “dividend” to the local communities around the site in the form of community grants. They needed to do that. I hope these new solar farms will do the same, either building in some portion of community ownership, or via a community dividend. The co-op, with its deductible gift recipient status, community energy focus, and commitment to helping community groups across the region, could make this part easy for them. We are always happy to discuss.
Also coming … I keep meeting clever young people who tell me how we will soon be able to use software and new apps to gather together distributed generation and stored energy from solar, wind and battery storage. We’ll be able to send it out when it’s needed, to stabilise the grid and add supply during those critical peak demand times, earning us income as we go. When that can happen easily, everyone will pay less for power, even those who don’t own a house or factory with a solar roof.
For years I have been saying “Our grandchildren will curse us if we don’t act.” By supporting, encouraging and helping guide the developments in renewable power that are coming our way, we are acting.
I want each of those developments to be as directly beneficial to the immediate community as they can be. But I want them to happen, for all of us, wherever and whoever we are.
Encouraging renewable energy generation, with community and business working positively together, including dealing with the changes it brings, are easy small steps towards giving our grandchildren a brighter future with a climate that is settling down.
The momentum is all positive. It’s a very exciting time …
*Susan Davies runs a small mixed farm in Outtrim and was founding chair of the Energy Innovation Co-operative.