On this page
This page will be updated regularly based on questions we receive.
We held an information session to present an overview of the fund and application criteria.
Good morning everyone, my name's Alicia Darvall, and I'm the Director of Regions and Partnerships for Sustainability Victoria. I would like to acknowledge that I am hosting this meeting from the lands of the Birrarung People. I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands of which you all work today, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in this webinar. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and celebrate the diversity of Aboriginal peoples, and their ongoing cultures and connections to the lands and waters of Victoria. We acknowledge that Aboriginal sovereignty has never been ceded.
I'm thrilled to be able to welcome you all here today to the information session for the Community Power Hubs Program. Many of you will have already been aware, or may have had firsthand experience with amenity Community Power Hubs Program and the pilot, which ran from 2017 to 2020. Delivering some really positive benefits to those communities. Expanding this program is a crucial step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and boosting community awareness and support for renewable energy.
This $3.37 million grant fund will enable many of you here today to apply for new funding to support, develop, and deliver important community owned renewable energy projects. The expanded Community Power Hubs Program will fund three to six Community Power Hubs across the state. This will include one in metropolitan Melbourne, and others in either Barwon South West, Gippsland, Grampians, Hume, and Loddon Mallee regions.
The Community Power Hubs Program forms part of the State Government’s $1.6 billion renewable energy package from mid- 2020 to 2021 Victorian budget. It will play an essential role in boosting Victoria's renewable energy capability, and capacity to provide driving community support for renewable energy initiatives and reducing community energy costs. This program anticipates similarly successful outcomes to these pilot program, where the community implemented solar arrays, backed by solar panels and solar streetlight installations in facilities and households across our regions.
Each year, these facilities provide one, sorry, 1,705 megawatts of renewable energy, and have reduced their carbon emissions by 1,839 times. The sites where the community energy projects were implemented and now enjoying annual electricity savings of $346,000. The Expanded Community Power Hub Program will see more supported, and empower delivery to local community energy products and projects.
The Community Power Hubs will provide the opportunity for local communities to be active participants in conversations, and decisions around the transition to renewable energy. It also increases participation in collective action on reducing emissions. Working at the grassroots level to empower our local communities with the knowledge and support they need is crucial to making them transition to a low carbon clean energy future.
It's a program that Sustainability Victoria is very proud to be delivering, and one that will have an enduring effect across the state. Today's session will run for approximately one hour, with the program team taking through the ins and outs of the program and guidelines. There will also be time reserved at the end of the session for you to ask questions. I wish you all the very best in developing and submitting your application, and what is such a valuable program for your communities, and one that will deliver great social, environmental, and economic value to Victorians.
I will now hand over to Luke Wilkinson, who is the manager for Regions, Communities, and Local Government team for Sustainability Victoria, who has been working hard to get this program off the ground alongside Heidi Hamm, the Strategic Coordinator for Gippsland. Thanks Luke, and thanks everyone for your attendance.
Thank you, Alicia. Welcome everyone, and appreciate Alicia for kicking us off. As mentioned, I am the Manager of the Regions, Communities and Local Government team. And with Heidi Hamm and the rest of our team, we've been involved in the design and delivery of both the Pilot Community Power Hubs. And now this new exciting initiative that is looking to take that statewide.
Heidi and I will be presenting the information session today, and fielding questions on the recently announced Community Power Hubs Program. Firstly housekeeping, you as attendees will be on mute during the presentation, but you will be able to interact with us using the chat function. If you've got questions as we move through the presentation, just log them. Don't wait till the end. What you have up in the top ribbon of your screen is a couple of speech bubbles with question marks on them.
If you hover over that, that will open up and show Q&A, and you can log your questions via that. Today's session will be recorded and uploaded the SV website. And there may be questions that we can't answer today, but what we will commit to you is we're aiming for a two day turnaround to get questions back to the blue registered interest. That will dependent on how many questions we get, but we're aiming for a two day turnaround.
And that will be delivered via a bulletin note that will be on the Community Power Hubs grant page. If you've got further questions after this presentation, then we'd please still send them in, and you can do that by emailing them into firstname.lastname@example.org Those details are on the Community Power Hubs webpage.
Next slide please, Alex. The agenda for today is we're going to be taking you through some of the background and context of the Community Power Hubs Program, that includes the pilot. We will talk through the details of now what this is expanded program is, what funding is available, who can apply, how and by when? Next slide, please.
As Alicia mentioned in the introduction, in 2017, the Victorian government committed funding to support and pilot three Community Power Hubs. These power hubs brought local stakeholders together to develop community-based renewable energy projects in and around Ballarat, Bendigo, and the Latrobe Valley. The pilot program was able to deliver reduced greenhouse gas emissions, it increased installed renewable energy, it increased community support for renewable energy and other clean energy initiatives, and it was able to assist local communities to reduce their energy costs through connecting to local clean energy initiatives.
The summary and the full evaluation report of the pilot program is available on the SV website. And we would really recommend you take the time to go and read through that, both the summary, but also the expanded program, because there's lots of learnings from that. That brings us to where we are today. Next slide please.
As a result of the pilot program success, this expanded program is now being funded as Alicia mentioned in the budget, the Victorian budget announced late last year. And it's part of a $1.6 billion energy package, unprecedented investment for the Victorian government in a clean energy future. And in doing so, the Community Power Hubs Program is going to provide the opportunity for more Victorian communities to be active participants in planning, and decisions around the local transition to clean energy future.
It's being funded because even despite the strong interest in community renewable energy projects, we still recognize that community groups still overwhelmingly rely on volunteers. And volunteers we know don't always possess the time, or the skills, or the expertise, or the finances to complete their local community energy projects on their own. So supporting community energy through the Community Power Hubs Program is going to assist the state government to deliver on its budget commitments to deliver low cost energy services, to contribute to meeting the Victorian renewable energy target with a legislated renewable energy target of 40% by 2025. And we'll also help Victorians take local action on climate change. Next slide please, Alex.
This next slide is what we're hoping the Power Hubs will be. The Community Power Hubs is a collective of groups and organizations working together to develop and deliver community energy projects across the region. A laid partner organization, which will be the applicant in this grant program will be responsible for the grant agreement with SV. And it will be responsible for setting up the Community Power Hubs, to ensure a collaborative approach and equitable spread of support occurs across that particular region.
Local community organizations, either non-for-profits, banks, neighborhood hubs, et cetera. Can be members of the hub, local community energy groups, and other stakeholders are also members of the Community Power Hub. And that might be made up of local councils, rural authorities, government agencies, they all form the Community Power Hubs. Each Community Power Hub will work collaboratively using the funding that they get through SV, to deliver community energy implementation, ready projects. So some quick projects on the ground.
They will use the funding to develop and deliver a pipeline of socially acceptable, financially feasible, and technically viable projects across that particular Community Power Hub region. And they're also there to provide local trusted advice to their local community on clean energy solutions. The decisions of each of the Community Power Hubs will be made collaboratively using an appropriate government governance system, sorry, to be determined by each Community Power Hub.
A collaborative governance approach was utilized in the Pilot Community Power Hubs Program, and information on this governance model can be found with those other materials I mentioned earlier, which is around the evaluation of the pilot program. Again, really encourage you to go to those the website, SV's website on the Community Power Hubs, look at that evaluation and also look at the other resources on those pages. Next slide please.
As stated in the guidelines, we are aiming in the program to establish at least three Community Power Hubs with a maximum of six. This is going to be a merit-based competitive grant program. If we assess and evaluate the applications that come in, and deem that we only have three proposals that meet the criteria and merit funding, then that is what we'll go with.
If we have more than three, then we have scoped progress up to six regional Community Power Hubs across the state. And we will be doing this and part of this as well as we did in the pilot program. We're going to be looking to support those either three to six Community Power Hubs across the state in a network so that they can actually collaborate, and share resources, and learnings, and opportunities as a functioning network.
Our approach is based on learnings of the pilot, and part of that learning was to move to a regional model. Move away from a town or a regional city based hub model to a regional approach, a regional model, which what we've gone with now. But in that regional approach, the hub is expected to support community energy groups within that region. A metropolitan regional Community Power Hub is also a new approach for this program, and is going to look at how it worked in regional Victoria in the pilot, and apply that to metropolitan context.
In this instance, we're going to be looking for a metropolitan Community Power Hub to be established and operate supporting local community energy groups within metropolitan Melbourne, in both developing and delivering their respective community energy projects. In terms of lead partner organizations, each power hub will have a lead partner organization that SV has a contract with, they need to be a non-for-profit, or social enterprise. They need to have experience in developing and delivering community energy projects.
Importantly, they need to have links and networks across their respective regions, and they need in their application to demonstrate that they have support of other community energy groups in that particular region. The lead partner, as I mentioned, organization will have contractual obligations with SV, but the decisions within each Community Power Hubs in each region is expected to be made in a collaborative manner across the local community energy groups, and also other relevant stakeholders.
Again, the learnings from the pilot can be referred to in terms of how this approach can take shape. The unique thing, and this is again, a learning out of the pilot and a recommendation from the evaluation is providing funding for Implementation Ready Projects. Each application will have the opportunity to list projects that they have in their region that are implementation ready. Within the next six months, they'll be able to be installed and operational.
An application needs to provide evidence of their readiness for implementation. And that might mean including feasibility studies, including quotes, including approvals, et cetera. As applicants, we would encourage applicants to consider any either projects that have already been developed that have been recommended, but ultimately didn't get funding from other grant programs, such as the new energy jobs fund that was announced late last year, Grant Five or the 2020 Energy Efficient Community Programs, that was a federally funded program that had two community projects per electorate.
There were a number of applications that were on our community energy groups putting for that, that weren't successful. And also think about other pipeline projects that you as a community energy group have been bubbling away, or have been pitched to different funding opportunities and haven't been successful. This critical part of funding these Implementation Ready Projects ready to go, is about providing funding to get some quick wins, both for the power hub, and for your communities. And that will grow momentum, grow goodwill, and grow participation. Next slide, please. I'll hand over to Heidi actually.
Thanks Luke. Hi, everybody. My name is Heidi Hamm, and I've been working for Sustainability Victoria since late 2017 in the regions communities and local government team. One of the programs that our team was involved with was the Pilot Committee Power Hubs Program. I'm really excited now to be also involved with this expanded program. Today I'll take you through some of the details that are outlined in the guidelines.
There's $3.37 million available in funding through this expanded Community Power Hubs Program. This is spread across two separate activities, the first one is the establishment and operation of a Community Power Hub across the region. And the second is the funding to implement community energy projects that are ready to go. There's between $428,500 and $857,000 available for that first activity. And the total amounts per Community Power Hub will be dependent on how many are funded.
As Luke mentioned, there'll be between three to six committee power hubs funded, but the second activity, there's a total of $800,000 available across all of the projects. And just to clarify the definition of an Implementation Ready Project, which is included in the guidelines. It's one that has completed all feasibility work and business cases, and has obtained all the necessary approvals. These projects need to be commissioned and operational by the end of December this year.
As Luke copied those are the details that you need to include as evidence that those projects are ready to go. Applicants can apply for both of these activities, or just activity one if there are no community energy projects that are already in your region. Applicants can't apply for activity two only. I'll talk in a little bit more detail soon around what to do if you have an Implementation Ready Project, but are not necessarily eligible, or interested in applying for activity one. Next slide, please. Alex.
The applicant which is the lead partner organization needs to be a suitably qualified not-for-profit organization community group, or social enterprise. And as outlined in the guidelines that government entities such as local government can't apply, and also business industry groups are not eligible to apply either. You need to have been operating for at least two years at the application closing date. So this is validated by the date of when the ABN status is active from.
As Luke outlined, really importantly the applicant, which is the lead partner organization, needs to provide evidence that they have the support of other community energy groups and relevant key local stakeholders in their region, such as, but not limited to councils, water authorities, other NGOs, and community groups, relevant businesses, and networks. And they also need to detail how a collaborative approach will be achieved in the Community Power Hub across the region. Next slide please.
There may be groups that have Implementation Ready Projects, but not necessarily the capability to be a lead part organization or the desire to be. If this is the case, you should get in touch with a local organization that does have the capability to be a lead partner organization, and have your project entered under their application. If you're unsure of who to connect with, we've got a couple of tips there that will get you started.
The Community Power Agency, which is an Australian not-for-profit organization with expertise that enables and advocates for community energy, have a map of community energy groups across Australia, that's publicly available on their website. It's not an exhaustive list, but it might give you a place to start. There are also renewable energy roadmaps available for each of the regions, which includes some detail on local community energy activity. So that might be a good place to look. And also council's always a fantastic source of local information if you're unsure of who the community energy groups in your area are. Next slide, please, Alex.
In the SmartyGrants application, you'll see that there are two budgets that need to be filled in for activity one, the establishment and operation of the Community Power Hub. This is due to the fact that the program will provide funding to between three and six Community Power Hubs. If there are three Community Power Hubs, then there will be up to $857,000 per Community Power Hub. If there are six than the amount available per Community Power Hub is $428,500. We want applicants to demonstrate in their submission how they will adjust their proposal activities under these two different budgets scenarios. Next slide. Thanks Alex.
There is a current contribution required for this program, and it's the same amount for both activity one and two. $1 needs to be contributed for every $5 that is granted from SV. The co-contribution can be provided as financial, or in kind by the applicant, or their partners. Other funding sources such as other grants can be included as a co-contribution. And if you're including these funding sources, there's a section in the application for you to outline the details of where these funding sources come from and what they'll be used for. Up to 100% of the co-contribution can be inclined. Next slide, thanks.
These are the activities that can be funded through activity one, the establishment and operation of the Community Power Hub. I won't read through them all, obviously they're available in the guidelines in full detail, but some of the key points to note, the grant money can pay for staff working on Community Power hub activities including travel costs. They will cover feasibility work and business case development needed for projects to get them to implementation ready stage, communications work, marketing, community engagement activities, all can be covered through the Community Power Hubs grant. Next slide.
These are activities that can be funded through activity two, the Implementation Ready Projects. As Luke mentioned, one of the recommendations from the pilot program evaluation was to provide some funding towards capital for projects, so that some quick wins could be made for the Community Power Hubs to kickstart their operation and build some momentum and support in the community.
This is really for the low hanging fruit, the projects that are simple, ready to go and can get on the ground within six months. For an example, a project might be an efficiency upgrades in a solar installation at a community use facilities such as the neighborhood house or local not-for-profit. The funding will cover the work's needed, the staff costs, the infrastructure, the equipment needed to get these projects commissioned, and operational by December this year. Next slide.
Once again, I won't read through all of these points about what won't be funded as the full details are outlined in the guidelines. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory in that the funding associated with things other than the CPH activities is going to be funded, but a couple of key points to pull out. Given the timeframes around this program, the development of projects that require further research, and testing, or changes to legislation won't be funded.
It's all about trying to get community entity projects on the ground. Also worth noting is that capital expenditure, equipment, infrastructure, et cetera, won't be funded under activity one. The establishment and operation of a Community Power Hub, but only through activity to the implementation projects. Thanks Alex.
This is the assessment criteria for activity one, the establishment and operation of the Community Power Hub. These are the questions that need to be answered, and they're outlined in the SmartyGrants application form. In terms of where to put in most of your effort, just take note of the percentage waiting for each of these sections, which will be used during the assessment process. Next slide. Thanks.
This is the assessment criteria for activity two, the Implementation Ready Projects. Once again, take note of the writing, and ensure that you have provided all of the relevant details for each of the projects that you are listing under this activity. Thanks Alex. So pass back to Luke now who go through some of the details about how you can apply and some key dates. Thanks.
Thanks, Heidi. The slide in front of you there, it says how to apply online. There's a couple of steps, the first one is to go to the Community Power Hub webpage, the link there, click on the SmartyGrants under the application process, and then you'll be directed to set up an account with SmartyGrants. If you haven't already got one, if your organization hasn't already got one with SV.
Once you're logged in, you click on the Community Power Hubs to apply, and there also you will have reference to all the relevant documentation as well, the guidelines, and tips for you. First of all, get talking to other community edge groups in your region, even just to collaborate, and look for ideas, or share your thinking, and look for opportunities that this is going to present to your region and to your community energy groups.
Go to the Pilot Community Power Hub on the website, learn about what happened in the pilot that laid the foundation for where we're at today, give yourself plenty of time to prepare and submit your application. The good thing about this system is you can go in, save always remember to avoid saving. You can go back and review and draft your application. It doesn't have to be done in one heat. Please take note of all the mandatory fields and also the word limits in those sections. And just to be clear, light up questions will not be accepted except under the most exceptional circumstances. Next slide please, Alex.
Checklist, I mentioned it before, please read and understand the Community Power Hub guidelines. You need to... And there is a link on the webpage about reading S-phase funding agreement in terms of terms and conditions and the terms of participation. You need to have your current IBN, and you also need to provide evidence, supporting evidence to demonstrate your ability to apply as the lead applicant for the Community Power Hubs, and for any listed Implementation Ready Projects, so evidence is critical.
If you have questions, don't hesitate. Even we've got a short turnaround here. So we would really encourage you to email any questions you have to that email address at the bottom of the screen there. And what we will do is we will answer them and provide that in the bulletin that we found on the SV Community Power Hubs website. So that way all community energy groups involved in this will have an answer, because often the questions are often shared by others interested in this opportunity. Next slide please.
Key dates, these are critical. So it was great we got it, and the applications were opened on the 1st of March tick. The information session, which is happening right now is a 10th months, tick. Applications close 3:00 PM. On 31st of March. We will be working as hard as we can to get notifications of the outcomes of the applications by the end of April. Again, that process is made easier when all the information, the evidence is included in your application. That way we don't have to keep going back to applicants to clarify anything.
That's our aim end April notifying the outcome, and then we'll be working incredibly hard to get the funding agreements in place over May. And then it's quick sticks to get the implementation projects running and installed commissioned signed off by the end of this calendar year in December. And then this Community Power Hubs expansion program funding agreement will be completed in June, 2022. Finished that slide, Alex, next slide, please. Over to Heidi, if that's the end of our content information. So we're going to open it up for questions now.
Thanks Luke, we have had a few questions through, so I'll just go through some of those now. A question came through, can a local government, a council be the lead partner organization? I think I answered that during my presentation, but just to go into more details. So section four of the guidelines details the eligibility, and it outlines that government entities such as local government are not eligible to apply as the lead partner organization. But they can certainly be part of the Community Power Hub as a partner.
Lead partner organizations that are applying is the applicant, we encourage you to get in touch with your local councils, and include a letter of support from them to be part of the Community Power Hub as a partner. Another question here from Gerald, can for-profit businesses be part of the Community Power Hub supporting the lead partner? The answer to that is yes, they can, so they can't lead partner organization, but they can certainly be a supporting partner that is part of the Community Power Hub. And encourage again, any local businesses that are interested in being part of the hub or those leader partner organizations, to get letters of support from you, that would be great.
Section four of the guidelines again outlines the details of the eligibility, and lists that for-profit businesses can't be lead partner organization, but as I said, can be part of the Community Power Hub as a partner. Got another question in here from Dan, regarding Implementation Ready Projects, can the funding contribute to 100% of solar battery installation costs for not-for-profit organizations?
The co-contribution is $1 for every $5 that is is granted. But 100% of that co-contribution can be in kind. The simple answer to the question is yes. Another one from Dan, can organizations apply for more than one region? For example, Loddon Mallee and Grampians. I might actually leave that one, we might address that one in the info bulletin. Got you another one here. Why do the guidelines specify that between three and six Community Power Hubs will be funded?
As Luke mentioned, this is a competitive merit based grant process. We want to make sure that the funding goes to lead partner organizations that are best placed to operate a Community Power Hub effectively and successfully. And that amounts of power hubs three to six will still allow for that really important collaboration between the power hubs that Luke mentioned. Luke, I'm going to pass over to you now, if you want to answer some of these questions.
Sure. Thanks, Heidi. Let me just open that. There's a question about what is going to happen to the three Pilot Community Power Hubs? Good questions come up a couple of times in earlier conversations. Each of the pilot Community Power Hubs, Ballarat, Bendigo, and Latrobe Valley that operated from 2017 to 2020. They're still active in a way in supporting the pipeline of projects that they delivered during that pilot period.
That the expanded program for the Community Power Hub is now going to take a regional approach, whereas those three pilots were very focused on a smaller geographic area. Now, the organizations that were involved in those pilot Community Power Hubs can apply to be the lead partner organization for a regional power hub, but they need to make the current eligibility criteria. And they've got to have the support of other community energy groups and relevant stakeholders across the region as outlined in the guidelines.
That's probably the answer to that, I think the other thing is the Pilot Community Power Hubs, as well as the material on the SV's website about the learnings and the resource. The Pilot Power Hubs themselves are valuable sources of information, that potential applicants in other regions might be interested in having a discussion about their experience, and what they learned from it. So that's that one, let's just refresh more page.
I've got one here, Luke, regarding the Metropolitan Community Power Hub, and a question around if it needs to be everywhere across Metro Melbourne or can it be more local? We understand that metropolitan Melbourne is obviously a huge area with a massive population. The idea for the metropolitan Community Power Hub is that it'll be based around a more local area where there perhaps is an existing network of community energy groups. So yeah, the answer to that is that it would be more more localized.
Heidi, what I would add to that is like the guidelines, if there is an applicant in the metropolitan area that, that wants to put forth their proposal to act as a lead partner in a Community Power Hub, then they would need to demonstrate the evidence of other local community energy groups in that particular geographic part of metropolitan Melbourne, that support their submission. That's going to be same as any Power Hub proposal from regional Victoria.
There's one here from Henry. We have an Implementation Ready Project, if we do that and we find out who is applying for our Community Power Hub locally, what happens if they put their project in under their application, and that's not successful? That wouldn't be funded then, the activity one obviously needs to be applied for the establishment and operation of a Community Power Hub. It will be the projects that are unlisted under those applications that get the funding.
I encourage you Henry to chat to your local community energy networks, and work out who might be best to partner with. You can potentially put your project in under two different applications, if that is the case. And there's more than one lead pot organization that's applying in your area. You could have your project listed under more than one application.
I might just jump in there, Heidi, some other questions. There's a comment about being very, very tight timelines. We acknowledged that at the moment, there's no opportunity for extension. I would be working and the assumption that the closing date is 3:00 PM, 31st of March, and it's not going to be extended, but that's a quick one. The other question, how strong is the requirement to spread projects across the whole region? Will we supply even if no projects are currently being developed?
I suppose the approach for that scenario is if the lead application lead applicant submits their proposal to act as the late part for the Community Power Hub. And they may have a small number of Implementation Ready Projects that they include, fantastic, but it does not spread across the region. That is where it is, but what we would like to see in that application is an overview of how that lead partner organization is going to support the subsequent development of other community energy proposals in other parts of the region during the life of the funding agreement.
They may not be Implementation Ready Projects spread across the region, but we want to see that the applicant and the proposal is going to be looking at developing those pipeline of projects, and using the funding to help those communities across the region develop their own community energy projects.
There's another one here around what are some of the community energy groups, and projects that have been part of the Community Power Hub Program in the past, we'd love to partner with them. Certainly go to the Pilot Community Power Hub page on SV's website, and you'll be able to read the details from the evaluation report. The summary and the full report are available there. And that details, the groups that were involved, and also some of the the projects as well.
There's a question Heidi, I might just jump in. Can energy efficiency projects be included in the Community Power Hub activities? The answer is yes. While there is a big focus on renewable energy in terms of the community energy projects talk, other clean energy projects that includes energy efficiency and storage, if they're ready to go, absolutely that can be included as either the proposed Implementation Ready Projects, or those projects that the Community Power Hub helps scope up in the reminder of the funding agreement. Yes, they can.
And linking on to another question there about a range of projects, because the funding period is short, and we really want to get quick success, build momentum. We'll be really looking favorably on proven technologies, proven project types. So yeah, that's the answer in terms of do you require a range of projects. Different community energy project types are absolutely able to be proposed, but they need to be pretty much implementation ready, we're not going to be looking at new emerging technology or the like, it needs to be stuff that can pretty much off the shelf we can in the Community Power Hubs can make that happen quickly.
There's a question here around the definition of in kind. There is a definition section in the guidelines. It's in section 12, and I'll just have a look at it. An in kind contribution is a contribution of a good or service other than money. In kind contributions may include, but not limited to staff time to manage project implementation, time spent on project activities by volunteers, donated goods or services related to a project.
The following activities can't be considered in kind, operating expenses that are not directly associated with delivering the Community Power Hub activities, or opportunity costs such as staff downtime during the installation of equipment or implementation of activities. Have a look at that section, and then if you've still got questions feel free to email them through.
There's a question in here too around if a Community Power Hub is expected to contact all community energy groups in their region or rely on those groups to contact them? Ideally if you are already linked in with your local community energy groups, then it would be fantastic if you can reach out to them and let them know that you're applying to be the lead part organization, and invite them to be part of that process. And also part of the discussions on setting up the governance, and how that collaboration, and decision-making is going to work across the region. Just a few more coming through.
There's a question, it does relate to an earlier question in terms of the funding period. It is a tight turnaround in terms of getting applications in and the funding period. As I mentioned in the timeline goes to June, 2022, the question is, will there be funding future years? At this moment, I don't know the answer to that. But what our approach is, this is the pilot, was a very successful experience, and has built a platform for this opportunity. And we'll be hoping that again, we can build a platform out of this opportunity to look at what happens in future years. I can't answer that one, but we're going to make the best we can of this opportunity we've got to support community energy across the state.
Another important one here is around our proof of concept eligible for this program. Given the tight timeframes really focusing on getting projects on the ground, the simple answer is no. But if you see section six of the guidelines, it outlines that funding won't be provided for initiatives that involve research development and demonstration or unproven clean energy related technologies. It's really about those projects that are ready to go, and can get on the ground quickly. Obviously some of the projects will need perhaps some simple feasibility work, but in terms of proving a concept for this program, it's not the best fit.
Heidi, there's a question here. I'm interested in the comments SV has about the ongoing ownership and operation of the projects from stream into the future. The ongoing ownership operation of the Implementation Ready Projects, I suppose our approach for this is, those projects that applicants would be proposing to be funded as implementation ready, don't necessarily have to be community owned and operated in sense of the community owned and operated under the understanding of community energy.
They may be projects in the region, in communities that obviously the community energy groups, and the proposal see as valuable community projects, such as renewable energy on disability service employer organization that is going to provide ongoing community benefit, either through reduced operational costs, through increased participation, and building partnerships. In terms of projects nominated as implementation really, that don't necessarily have to be owned under a community energy governance structural or cooperative, or anything like that. But it would be up to the applicant and the proposal proponents to demonstrate that they meet the criteria, and are supported by the community energy group putting forward the proposal.
Great, we're at 10:56. So we've maybe had time for one or two more. One here from Brad, am I correct in assuming that the funding for business case development, feasibility studies, et cetera, that's accessible through the operation and establishment of a Community Power Hub, would be related to projects other than the Implementation Ready Projects? Yes, so the projects that are coming through activity two, the Implementation Ready Projects would already have all of that feasibility work, and business case development done, and that would be included as evidence of its implementation ready status.
For other projects that are in development, there's not necessarily all projects would need feasibility work undertaken. If it's a simple project, it may just require quotes. That money is there through activity one, operation and establishment of the Community Power Hub, if it's needed. If feasibility work and business case development is needed for specific projects, then that money can be used towards that. Luke, are there any final questions in there you wanted to go through?
Yeah, Heidi, there's one that relates to that question you just answered. Kind of some of the string one funds, which is the setup and operation of the Community Power Hubs be used for projects? The answer to that is, the funds for setting up an operating a Community Power Hub on the stream one, can't be used for capital costs related to projects, that comes under the implementation ready funding stream too. But the funds that are allocated on the setting up and operating Community Power Hubs, can be used in terms of proving and developing viable projects that are socially acceptable, technically viable, financially feasible.
You can use that, and that's up to the governance of the Community Power Hubs to understand and work out a decision-making process about how those funds are used to develop a pipeline of projects that continue to move on beyond the life of this funding agreement. And what I would say is, the Pilot Hub has showed us that when you build projects that can stack up, they're able to attract finance to implement those projects. What we also learn is, we need some quick wins, which is why we've added that element to this project as well.
Heidi, I mean, there's quite that we won't be able to answer all the questions. But as noted, our aim is to turn this around in two days, and publish them as a bulletin on the SV's Community Power Hub webpage. I think we might close it there at 11 o'clock. Thank you for your attendance and participation. It's an exciting time, but it's a busy time. And we look to support you as best we can in participating in this opportunity. This will be recorded and uploaded to the SV website. You'll have all the up-to-date information there. And I hope you found it valuable and I hope you have a great day. Take care. Bye now.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.