Community pushes for renewable energy

Article image - Community pushes for renewable energy The township of Anglesea is known for its beautiful surrounds.

A grassroots group in the Victorian coastal town of Anglesea is campaigning for more renewable energy in the community, with guidance from the Surf Coast Shire.

After starting a conversation with its town on climate change, an Anglesea community group is turning words into action as it strives towards a major environmental goal – 100 per cent renewable energy in Anglesea.

The newly formed Anglesea Community Energy (ACE) group is made up of environmentally conscious locals who initially came together to discuss the future of the old Alcoa site.

“On a broader level, we noticed grassroots community energy projects springing up nationally – both to benefit communities and as an effective response to climate change,” ACE member Sally Groom said.  

“We quickly realised that the Alcoa site was not the only option for community energy in Anglesea and that there were other ways the town could become more energy efficient.”

ACE’s ultimate aim is to help the Anglesea community reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

“We’re aiming to get some small-scale renewable energy projects up and running, such as rooftop solar on larger buildings and an electric car charging station,” Ms Groom said.

“In the medium term, we will be trying to put together a model to work towards a 100 per cent renewable Anglesea.

“With the added benefits of local employment, significantly lower power bills and profits back to fund community organisations, it makes great sense for our community to reduce our energy-related carbon footprint to zero.”

The group is an example of local communities showing initiative to help the Surf Coast Shire become an environmental leader.

Ms Groom said ACE was pleased to play a role in Towards Environmental Leadership – a joint Council and community program.

“There is a sort of inertia among citizens, governments and businesses about acting to minimise climate change.

“Everyone who has the capability needs to be pushing to resist this inertia, and start the change towards a carbon neutral world.

“Overcoming the inertia starts with conversations in the streets of towns like ours all over the world.”

ACE has been inspired by Renewable Newstead – a project in the Shire of Mount Alexander that aims to run the town on 100 per cent locally-generated renewable energy.

“If their roll out is successful, we are open to adopting their business model which has been developed over many years and with consideration from numerous experts in the field, including Powercor,” Ms Groom said.

With community consultation on the future use of the Alcoa lease area continuing in 2017, ACE will provide feedback.

Surf Coast Shire Council has demonstrated environmental leadership in Anglesea through the installation of a 15 kW solar system on the Anglesea Men’s Shed.

“We’re open to ideas and information about how people in our community are saving on their power bills, reducing energy use, or finding great deals on buying renewable energy and installing solar,” Ms Groom said.