Community Power Hubs Program: Information bulletin

Last updated: 23 March 2021

This page will be updated regularly based on questions we receive.

Information session

We held an information session to present an overview of the fund and application criteria.

Recording

About applications

Can I talk to someone at Sustainability Victoria about the Community Power Hubs program and my proposed approach?

Community energy groups are applying through a contested grant process to access funding through the Community Power Hubs program.  Because the process is competitive, we need to ensure that there is a fair process for all applicants, and that everyone has access to the same information and assistance. 

Sustainability Victoria staff are unable to engage with individual applicants to discuss project ideas, review draft applications or provide feedback on the potential merit of a project. 

Email any questions to grants.enquiries@sustainability.vic.gov.au and we will publish a response in this Information Bulletin.

We encourage you to discuss your project with other groups in your region because their support and projects will strengthen your application. 

For community energy sector advice and resources, it may also be valuable to connect with the Community Power Agency or the Coalition for Community Energy.

In relation to completing the budget tables in the application: Will the funding for Activity 1 need to be expended by the end of the contract with Sustainability Victoria, or can the Lead Partner Organisation use some of the grant funds to continue operation of the Community Power Hub into a future period?

It is expected that the grant money provided to each successful Community Power Hub will be expended by the end of June 2022. Funding for Implementation Ready Projects (activity 2) is expected to be expended by the end of December 2021. Refer to Section 9. Key dates of the Guidelines.

Do I need to have all of the insurances listed in the Guidelines to apply?

You are not required to purchase these insurances to submit a grant application for the Community Power Hubs program, but you would be required to purchase insurance if your application is successful. 

Insurances and other operating costs are eligible expenditure items for activity 1 and activity 2 grants under the Community Power Hubs Program. See Section 5. What will be funded? of the Guidelines. 

If your organisation does not have the insurances listed and your grant application is successful, insurance certificates of currency would need to be provided to Sustainability Victoria prior to commencement of the project. See Section 8. Funding conditions of the Guidelines.

About Lead Partner Organisations

Can for-profit businesses be part of the Community Power Hub supporting the Lead Partner?

Yes, businesses can be included as a regional partner in a Community Power Hub. The Lead Partner Organisation (Applicant) will need to provide evidence of support from the community. For further information, see Section 4. Who can apply? of the Guidelines.

Can one organisation apply as the Lead Partner Organisation in more than one region?

If an organisation meets all the eligibility criteria as an Applicant and has the capacity and necessary support and networks across more than one region, then they can apply as the Lead Partner Organisation for more than one region. A separate application for each region will need to be submitted.

How do we find out who is applying as a Lead Partner Organisation?

You need to connect with community energy groups in your region to discuss the program and decide which organisation is best placed to apply or which group is already applying.

If you are unsure who to connect with, the Community Power Agency has a map of community energy groups across Australia.

The Regional Renewable Energy Roadmaps include some detail around community energy activity.

Councils are also a great source of local information if you are unsure who the community energy groups are in your area. The sustainability/environment teams should be best placed to assist.

For further information, see Section 3. About the Community Power Hubs Program of the Guidelines.

Can schools be included in this program?

As outlined in section 4 of the Guidelines, all education institutions (e.g., early learning centres, kindergartens, schools, or universities) are not eligible to be a Lead Partner Organisation (the Applicant). These institutions can be part of the Community Power Hub as a partner. Lead Partner Organisations will need to provide evidence of support from the community.

We encourage schools to discuss your involvement as a partner in a regional Community Power Hub with other relevant groups in your region. It may also be valuable to connect with the Community Power Agency, or the Coalition for Community Energy for community energy sector advice and resources.

About Implementation Ready Projects

Can the funding contribute to 100% of the cost for the project?

The co-contribution required for both Community Power Hub activities is $1 for every $5 granted. Up to 100% of the co-contribution can be in-kind. Other funding sources, such as grants, can be used as part of the co-contribution. See Section 4. Who can apply? of the Guidelines.

What happens to our project if the Application that includes our project is not successful?

If more than one Lead Partner Organisation is making a submission in your region, you can ask that your project be included in both applications.

Do you require a range of different technologies (e.g. rooftop solar, bioenergy, small wind) to be included in projects entered under Activity 2 – Implementation Ready Projects?

The focus is on proven community energy projects so that on the ground activity can occur within the short time frame of the program.

Projects need to fit within the definition of a community energy project in Section 12 Fund definitions of the Guidelines. Also refer to Section 5. What will be funded? and Section 6. What won’t be funded? of the Guidelines.

What is the preferred ownership and operation model for Implementation Ready Projects?

There are no specific ownership models that projects need to follow as long as they fit within the definition of a community energy project under Section 12. Fund definitions, as well as Section 5. What will be funded? and Section 6. What won’t be funded? of the Guidelines.

About project partners and collaboration

Is the Lead Partner Organisation expected to contact all community energy groups in their region, or rely on groups to contact them?

The Lead Partner Organisation should contact community energy groups that they know of in their region. Providing evidence of support from these groups is required for the application.

If unknown groups approach the Lead Partner Organisation and want to be involved in the Community Power Hub, the Lead Partner Organisation should discuss how they would like to be involved, consider asking them to be a partner and to provide a letter of support.

Refer to Section 4. Who can apply? of the Guidelines.

Will the metropolitan Community Power Hub be expected to support groups and projects across the entire metro region?

No, we understand that the metro region has a very large footprint and population. The metropolitan Community Power Hub will be expected to cover an area where there is an existing network of community energy groups.

The area and number of groups supported will be dependent on the existing network. Refer to Section 1. Funding overview of the Guidelines.

About projects

Are proofs of concept eligible for this program?

Funding will not be provided for initiatives that need research, demonstration, testing or legislative changes. Given the short time frames for this program, simple, proven community energy projects are the focus.

Please refer to Section 6. What will not be funded? of the Guidelines.

Can energy efficiency projects be included in the Community Power Hub?

Yes, energy efficiency projects are eligible for funding. Community energy projects are those in which a community is involved in initiating, developing, owning, operating and/or benefiting from Renewable Energy and energy efficiency development. See Section 12. Fund definitions of the Guidelines.

Can a delivery project include the installation of a fast electric vehicle charger?

Electric vehicle projects including charging infrastructure are not eligible for funding. Please refer to Section 6. What will not be funded? of the Guidelines.

Can existing projects that are being delivered be considered as co-contribution?

If it is a community energy project and it is demonstrated to be directly related to the establishment and operation of the Community Power Hub, then it can be considered as a co-contribution. See Section 12 Fund definitions of the Guidelines.

Is there a requirement to spread projects across the whole region? Will this apply even if no projects are currently being developed?

Implementation Ready Projects (activity 2) can be from anywhere within the region applicable to the application.

For activity 1, funding for the establishment and operation of a Community Power Hub, it is expected that support for project development and implementation be spread to interested community energy groups across the entire region.

Can some of the funds from Activity 1 (establishment and operation of a Community Power Hub) be used for projects?

Activity 1 funding can be used for project development work (e.g. feasibility studies or business cases), but not for project capital expenditure (e.g. purchase of equipment or infrastructure). Refer to Section 5. What will be funded? of the Guidelines.

It is expected that projects funded under activity 2 (Implementation Ready Projects) would have already completed the necessary feasibility and business cases and these would be included as evidence of their implementation ready status in the application.