Aerial drone shot of Apollo Bay beach and town

Remote and rugged.

It’s part of the charm of Apollo Bay, one of Australia’s most picturesque seaside villages. Boasting pristine forest and waterways, there’s no wonder tourists and locals alike call it “paradise by the sea”.

But there’s trouble in paradise, when remote often means unreliable power – hurting local businesses during peak tourism season.

A group of local volunteers are countering that with community energy. Watch their story.

With the help of the Barwon South-West Community Power Hub, they have a plan to hit back at 70 blackouts a year with an islandable microgrid powered by solar, wind and a neighbourhood battery.

With hundreds of hours of volunteer enthusiasm and local knowledge, Matt Armstrong and the Southern Otway Sustainability group are creating a 100% renewable town, which locals see as critical when bushfires and storms threaten to cut homes and businesses from power.

It’s a lesson for every town and suburb around the country: people power builds energy autonomy and community resilience.

There are now over 110 community energy groups around Australia, just like Apollo Bay’s SOS, supporting their town’s vision to be safer, cleaner and more prosperous.

For the last five years, the Victorian Government has funded Community Power Hubs to give local groups a leg up with innovative renewable energy projects. But that funding has now run dry, with nothing allocated to hubs in the state’s 2022/23 Budget.

To make matters worse, no other federal or state/territory government has committed to funding these vital regional development organisations.

With the renewable energy boom well upon us, regional communities are being asked to host large-scale renewable energy developments by multinational companies – but with no support to themselves actively participate in the energy transition.

We’re calling for federal and state energy ministers to work together and establish 50 Community Power Hubs around the country.

Australia can be a renewable superpower – and this one-in-a-generation opportunity must be offered to communities.

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