Federal political hopefuls from regional Australia are being urged to support local Community Power Hubs to help build prosperity and resilience in the regions.
Community Power Agency (CPA) is making the call in the wake of parliament’s Standing Committee on Energy and Environment failing to support the Australian Local Power Agency (ALPA) Bill after a 12-month inquiry.
The bill was introduced by independent MP for Indi Helen Haines, and was designed to empower everyday communities in regional Australia to access the full benefits of the boom in renewables.
Community Power Agency Director Dr Jarra Hicks said the bill had enormous support from around the country.
“We’re calling on all regional candidates for the federal election who want to build prosperity and resilience in the regions to back Community Power Hubs – it’s a vote winner,” she said.
A key part of the ALPA bill is establishing 50 Community Power Hubs across regional Australia. These Hubs would support communities to develop their own renewable energy projects through grants of up to $500,000 a year for five years, as well as new forms of financial support including loans1.
“We know Community Power Hubs are an incredibly effective investment in regional development. In Victoria’s two-year trial they generated $14.5 million value, a 13-1 leverage of government investment2.
“Australia’s entire coal power fleet will retire in 20 years – or sooner, if Origin Energy’s announcement that it’ll close the country’s largest coal power station in just 3 years’ time is any indication.
“The vast bulk of our new renewable energy system is already beginning to be built in regional Australia. Everyday communities are poised and motivated to participate – but without proper planning, they will miss out on the benefits of this boom.”
The Committee’s report3 recognises that community energy can revitalise regional communities, and backs the need for on-the-ground Community Power Hubs in regional centres around the country to unlock hundreds more locally-owned renewable energy projects.
“Yet they recommended the bill not pass. We mark the Committee’s report an F for failing regional communities,” Dr Hicks said.
For more information contact CPA Community Campaigner Xavier Mayes on 0423 030 658.
1 Local Power Plan, 2020
2 Community Power Hubs Pilot Program final evaluation (pdf) Sustainability Victoria, 2019
3 Advisory report on the inquiry into the Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021 and Australian Local Power Agency (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021, Australian Parliament Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, February 2022
Further reference: Dr Jarra Hicks’ speech at the Public hearing on the inquiry into the Australian Local Power Agency Bill 2021 and the Australian Local Power Agency (Consequential Amendment) Bill 2021, Australian Parliament Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, 27 August 2021