Hepburn Community Wind
A community owned renewable energy workshop was held recently in Bairnsdale with about 40 people attending from across Gippsland. This followed on from a workshop in Leongatha earlier this month. There were representatives from Mallacoota and Orbost, Heyfield, Sale and Mirboo North with active or aspiring community energy projects in various stages of progress. These varied from an aborted plan of Heyfield to install one of Fred Sundermann’s low head submerged hydro-generators to the ambitions of the Mallacoota Sustainable Energy Group to cover their sewage facility with solar and establish a micro-grid. (blog from Brian Reed to follow soon)
Gippsland2020’s work with the Segue Community Cafe in Stratford was one of the few projects making progress. In conjunction with Rod Horton of NRGwise Gippsland2020 have already installed a heat pump in Segue to replace their aging and inefficient hot water service. They now intend to place enough solar on the roof to completely power the Café. Basically it is financed by persuading consumers to change their energy retailer to Powershop (a renewable energy retailer) and direct the funds from this transfer to Gippsland2020 and through them to the Segue Café. Hopefully savings at Segue can then be directed to other projects in Stratford. Unfortunately this work has received no publicity so far and thus generated little community interest.
The workshop was organised by Rebecca Lamble, environment officer at the East Gippsland Shire. Other shire representatives were present along with a small group from East Gippsland Water who have a number of interesting renewable energy projects in progress. The facilitators of the workshop were Luke Wilkinson of Sustainability Victoria, Taryn Lane of Hepburn Wind and Embark, Gavin Ashley of Moreland Energy Foundation and Nicky Ison of Community Power Agency. Taryn briefly outlined the pioneering and inspiring work done by Hepburn Wind.
The Victoria Government has provided an excellent guide (with a few blemishes) which “consolidates existing knowledge and resources and provides links to further information, resources and assistance.” The Guide is available to download at: http://www.energyandresources.vic.gov.au/energy/sustainable-energy/community-energy The Coalition for Community Energy website is at http://c4ce.net.au/
Having solar on every rooftop, plus community projects for storage, energy efficiency, micro-grids, wind generators, bioenergy (not native forest) and pumped solar is a step in the right direction. Now that Australia has signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change events like these should mushroom across Gippsland, Victoria and Australia. It’s time for the community owned renewable energy revolution.