A GEELONG grassroots initiative to boost renewable energy infrastructure at local facilities has support from a state MP, with projects elsewhere in the region earmarked for future investment.
Geelong Sustainability (GS) officially launched its Community Energy Revolving Fund (CERF) at YMCA Geelong last week in front of a crowd of about 50 people, after the community centre became the first recipient of funding.
The CERF provided an interest-free loan to the YMCA install a 60kW solar system at its Newtown stadium, which the organisation will pay back over five years from savings in energy costs – estimated at $14,000 annually.
GS aims to continue building its fund through community investment and repayments, to invest in similar projects, with Surf Coast and Bellarine organisations included in the pipeline.
The CERF is part of the Barwon South West Community Power Hub, an initiative which receives funding from state government agency Sustainability Victoria.
Geelong MP Christine Couzens praised the Geelong group for making the project a reality and said she looked forward to seeing the fund expand to include more organisations soon.
“What I’ve loved about this is it’s the community driving it, not the government,” Ms Couzens said.
“We’re lucky to have (Geelong Sustainability) driving these sorts of things because without them it wouldn’t have happened.”
YMCA Geelong chief executive officer Shona Eland said the project would help improve the facility’s bottom line, which would ensure its services and activities remained accessible for all members of the community.
She also said the new solar gear would help the Y deliver on its sustainable principles.
“One of the key things we talk about is we believe in the power of inspired young people. Inspired young people are telling us we need to look after our community, our environment and our people, and this is part of it,” Ms Eland said.