Powershop electricity customers funding community renewable energy
Powershop reveals cash for renewable projects from customers who paid more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/09/powershop-reveals-cash-for-renewable-projects-from-customers-who-paid-more
Energy retailer raised $100,000 from customers, which will be given out as grants to community-owned energy projects, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 9 Feb 17, Amid fresh attacks on renewable energy targets from the federal government and large energy retailer ERM Power, smaller electricity retailer Powershop has raised $100,000 from its customers to be given out as grants to 10 community-owned projects around the country.
Three months ago Powershop launched the Your Community Energy initiative, where they gave customers the opportunity to pay higher rates, which it said would then be distributed to renewable energy projects that were community-owned.
Powershop aimed to raise $20,000 by the end of 2016 but, as of February 2017, it had raised $100,000.
One project – rooftop solar on the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (Ceres) centre in Melbourne – has already received $10,000 from the initiative and used that to complete their 15 KW solar installation.
A spokeswoman for Ceres, Judy Glick, said the installation would save the community group $2,000 each year and reduce their yearly emissions by almost 16 tonnes of CO2. “Ceres is on a mission to achieve zero emissions by 2025,” she said.
Five other projects were also announced as recipients of a share of the money. They include a micro hydro station in Daylesford, Victoria, which is being organised by Hepburn Wind, the operators of the first community-owned windfarm in Australia.
Also receiving funding is the Milparinka Centre (Victoria), Castlemaine Childcare Centre (Victoria), Moyola Lodge (Victoria), Mid Mountains Neighbourhood Centre (NSW) and Buckets Way Neighbourhood Centre (NSW).
Powershop’s chief executive, Ed McManus, said he expected to raise $500,000 within 12 months and wanted to accelerate the growth of community-owned renewable energy.
“The way energy is generated, how it travels to our homes and how we pay for it, is going to change dramatically in our lifetime,” McManus said. McManus aacknowledged the initiative was partly about “brand-positioning” for Powershop. But he said the company began as a 100% renewable energy generation company and then only became a retailer when it partnered with a community-owned windfarm. He said that meant the initiative was a natural move for the people behind Powershop.
McManus said Powershop would need to hear from community energy projects in order to find recipients for the money they expect to raise in the coming months.
The Victorian minister for energy, environment and climate change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the fact customers had chosen to pay more for their electricity to fund community renewable energy showed people were behind renewable energy and wanted to support it. “We should be encouraging all providers to find more ways for them to do so,” she said.
Powershop also recently launched a program called the Your Neighbourhood Solar Powerpack, where customers in Victoria could buy solar energy directly from their neighbours, allowing those with rooftop solar to get a higher feed-in tariff.
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