Balance of power by Sierra Dunton

First published in the Bass Coast Post*

THE renewable energy transition is gathering pace across Australia. Homeowners are lapping up opportunities for solar and/or battery installations, with plenty of financing options, timely government incentives, and reduced energy bills for years to come.

For renters, low-income earners, people living in flats or other dwellings unsuitable for rooftop solar, the outlook is less promising, with energy bills expected to spike over the next few years. While most power companies offer “green energy”, it’s often at a premium price, further excluding low-income earners from accessing renewable energy.

What if there was a way to share your excess solar with friends, family and people in your community who are doing it tough? Or at the very least, a way to ensure some of what you pay for electricity is redirected back into your community?

Based in Bass Coast, the Mycelia Energy Collective is a profit-for-purpose social enterprise and registered charity with community energy and equity at its core.

Mycelia was recently selected by WWF Australia for its ambitious Innovate to Regenerate Program rolling out across Australia. The Program aims to support community-led solutions that encourage impact investment in priority areas such as food, biodiversity and climate, and to establish a powerful network equipped to regenerate Australia through linked projects.

Mycelia is proud to be launching this project across Bass Coast and South Gippsland, where there is a history of environmental stewardship and passionate people and organisations taking the lead on climate change.

We are seeking a combination of 100 households and businesses to participate in the pilot phase. By joining up, you’ll help shape and test the model for further rollout across the state, and potentially communities across Australia.

The collective offers 100% certified renewable energy at no extra cost, so nobody is left behind. Members include people with solar panels, some with solar and batteries, and some with neither.

We will use energy matching technology provided through our partnership with The People’s Grid to share energy among members. A pay-it-forward option is also being developed so members can donate their feed-in-tariff to a friend, family member or anyone in the collective being affected by high energy prices. Essentially, the Collective is a means for using your electricity bill to do good!

Ultimately the collective will be able to set real targets for local energy generation, use and storage that yields benefits to members, their communities and the grid, as we navigate the ups and downs of transitioning to renewables.

The benefit sharing fund will direct profits back into partnering communities through energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. Community-based advisers are working with Mycelia to determine how the fund is distributed and breaking down barriers to participation.

*see here