Many Victorians want greater control over their energy and costs, as well as minimising their impact on climate change. A grassroots approach to energy production has already made a big difference in towns and cities across our state.
Victoria’s Community Power Hubs bring communities together to develop locally-owned and cost-effective renewable energy projects, in the major regional centres of:
- Latrobe Valley.
The three hubs were developed in 2017 under a two-year pilot program. The program was designed to trial a new model for the development of funding-ready projects to be supported by community, government or private investors. The innovative model supported the hubs to involve the community at the front end of projects, leveraging the volunteers and local effort that has fast-tracked many clean energy opportunities.
Pilot projects were designed to enable Victorian communities to access the skills and expertise required to develop and deliver community-based projects characterised by local ownership, participation, benefit sharing and potential job generation.
The program received $900,000 funding from the Victorian Government, in addition to $260,000 in-kind investment from Sustainability Victoria.
Delivering value for communities
The Community Power Hubs program was formally evaluated in 2019 at the end of the two-year pilot period.
The program delivered Victorian communities significant social, environmental and economic value. It proved an effective way to leverage local interest in renewable energy in the development funding-ready projects.
In total, the program generated more than $14.5 million value within the two-year pilot period. This is the equivalent to generating $13 in value for every dollar of government investment.
During the two-year pilot, 15 community energy projects were completed across the three hubs. These projects represent:
- the installation of 1.35MW of renewable energy
- the generation of 1,705MWh of renewable electricity each year
- reduction of carbon emissions by 1,839t CO2e per year
- savings to host organisations of approximately $364,000 in annual electricity costs
- projected savings to host organisations of $9.1 million over the 25-year lifetime of the projects (calculated at net present value and based on savings and income from renewable energy and energy efficiency).
During the pilot period, an additional $2.2 million was sourced, along with $497,000 of in-kind and voluntary contributions, from:
- community donations
- local organisations and businesses
- philanthropy and grants.
The program engaged more than 200 businesses and organisations, resulted in more than 20,000 connections made in the community, and featured 114 public events and meetings.
Significantly, nine-in-ten of those surveyed as part of the program evaluation agreed the Community Power Hubs model increased local support and understanding for renewable energy within their community.
Examples of projects delivered under the Community Power Hubs model include:
- a bulk buy and install of solar PV that also offered battery storage and hot water systems to households, making solar more accessible and affordable. This project installed a total of 326kW across 42 local homes and four businesses.
- 316kW solar array on a health centre
- 31kW solar array on social housing assisting low-income residents
- solar streetlights linking a community sporting and recreation reserve to the nearby town
- 180kW of solar and batteries to service a small off-grid community that had previously relied on diesel generators.
The three Community Power Hubs developed a future pipeline of projects to continue to deliver renewable energy and carbon savings in their communities.
We provided funding of $45,000 to each hub to progress these pipeline projects to the stage of securing finance.
Hub host organisations
Community Power Hubs are hosted by a local social enterprise or not for profit organisation and supported directly by Sustainability Victoria.
- Latrobe Valley: Gippsland Climate Change Network
- Bendigo: Bendigo Sustainability Group
- Ballarat: Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions (BREAZE)
Find out more
For a copy of the full Community Power Hubs evaluation report or the value-benefit calculation tool, contact Luke.Wilkinson@sustainability.vic.gov.au