Renewable Energy Roadmap underway

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Eighty-three people have helped kick start the Bass Coast and South Gippsland Renewable Energy Roadmap.  An online survey and a series of workshops have enabled people to start putting their ideas forward as to the renewable energy future they want to see in our region.

The online survey opened at the beginning of May and will be open until end of September.  So far 67 people have completed the survey. The aim is for at least 200 people to go online and have their say.  Full-time/part-time residents, holiday home owners, farmers and other small business owners, and large energy users are all encouraged to contribute through the survey.

Participation in the workshops was also strong with 68 people participating in four workshops held in Wonthaggi, Kilcunda, Korumburra and Koonwarra.  People were invited to help shape a vision for a renewable future that people of the region could get behind.   The strengths and opportunities of the region were also discussed so the Roadmap can be built on those strengths and take advantage of the opportunities that already exist or are emerging.

“It was great to hear at each workshop an understanding that the Bass Coast and South Gippsland region is made up of many small towns and localities where a strong sense of community and support for neighbours has evolved”, said Project Team Lead, Moragh Mackay. “So it’s not so surprising that the vision and opportunities discussed so far reflect this regional character”.  The majority of ideas put forward so far are for small to mid-scale new generation that can meet the needs of small businesses and whole towns.  Another strong feature coming through is that community want to be involved in decisions regarding placement of new generation and also in co-owning the installations.

Challenges and risks that will need to be addressed in order to achieve the vision and opportunities were also discussed.  One of the main challenges is aligning community aspirations with what is possible on the grid.  “We are fortunate to have in the team Daniel Brooks from Mondo and Jarra Hicks from Community Power Agency who gave a 101 on how the electricity network operates and some of the things we’ll need to be mindful of as we explore and then hone the opportunities with real potential for inclusion in the Roadmap” said Max Richter, another Team member.

Workshop participants started mapping where in the landscape they thought there was opportunity to site new generation.  The results of this mapping exercise are now live on the Engage Victoria website It’s an interactive map so people going online can see what has already been said and add their own ideas.  Over time these ideas will be lined up with where in the grid those ideas are possible and a second map will be developed.  This will appear in the draft Roadmap that will go out for a second round of consultations in September – October.

“This interactive mapping is a great asset to the project made possible because the State Government are both funding and supporting the Renewable Energy Roadmap Project,” said Moragh.  Other partners include the Gippsland Climate Change Network, Latrobe Valley Community Energy Hub, Bass Coast and South Gippsland Shires and Sustainability Victoria.  “All the project partners have valued contributions to make and it’s just so good to have this many enthusiastic people and organisations working towards the same outcome, and that is a strategic vision and co-designed plan for how to transition our region to a renewable energy future” said Moragh.  “I would like to particularly thank the Project Control Group and all the participants who have contributed so far to kick start this project with such enthusiasm, it’s been really great,” said Moragh.

Further meetings and workshops will be taking place with various organisations and groups during June to September, along with the online survey and Engage Victoria interactive map so people will continue to have many opportunities to provide input.  Keep checking for project updates.

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