Over the last 2 years the Community Power Hub program had been exploring new ways of supporting Victorian communities to access the technical skills and expertise required to develop and deliver community-based renewable energy projects.

The Premier’s Sustainability Awards offered 11 award categories this year and had a record number of submissions. They were a great opportunity to recognise those driving change within communities around sustainable innovation and practices across all sectors within Victoria. It is also a chance to celebrate the many hardworking volunteers, staff and contractors who make such projects possible.

“Community Power Hub projects are as much about developing local leadership, ownership, participation and benefit sharing as they are about supporting clean energy investment and infrastructure”, said Gippsland Climate Change Chair, Darren McCubbin.

The GCCN along with the other two hub hosts, Bendigo Sustainability Group and the Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions group, have benefited from sharing their different perspectives and understanding of new ideas and solutions, to improve program initiatives and projects.

“Reginal communities are special, we have different ways of doing things. Together sharing valuable resources across the hub areas has strengthened our communities and is building pathways to long-term sustainability. It’s also been great fun!” He said.

Making projects more accessible to a wider range of community organisations has also made new and exciting projects, such as the Rumahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation’s proposal for Australia’s first grid-connected solar farm on Aboriginal land possible.

Opening up opportunities to promote social and inter-generational equity have also included the Bendigo Hub delivering a 31 kW solar PV system for a set of eight social housing units occupied by long-term tenants. In total $30,000 in donations was raised from 70 local community donors.

Local projects in renewable energy help create local employment opportunities and investment while encouraging the use of locally manufactured solar hot water heaters and tanks. As well as helping locals understand and access other Victorian government initiatives and funding.

“So far, the Community Power Hub program has so resulted in 15 projects saving around $360,000 on bills and avoiding thousands of tons of CO2 emissions annually. We are talking over 14 million dollars of value generated in our communities during this programs pilot phase! So of course, we are excited about what comes next.”

The hubs have secured funding until June 2020 and in their post pilot phase will continue to engage with their communities, groups, organisations and businesses to inspire more local investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector, while also expanding their reach more widely across their regions.