Regional WA towns join up to jumpstart renewable energy projects

Some of the CREATE Community Energy group L to R: Martin Livsey (Finance Officer, Katanning Energy), Katie Dixon (Member, Bridgetown Energy Transition), Kristy D’Aprille (Board member of Katanning Energy; Shire Councillor); Wai Wan (Advocate, Researcher, Murdoch University), Mike Kaye (Member, Bridgetown Energy Transition), Amy Kippin (Administration Officer, Katanning Energy), Tracey Kippin (Bookkeeper, Katanning Energy), Julian Sharp (Advocate, Clever Clogs), Rose Ferrell (Convenor, Clever Clogs), Geoff Stade (Chair, Board member, Katanning Energy), Jim Dixon (Member, Bridgetown Energy Transition).

Lots of work has gone into the renewable energy transition in urban areas. The State government has developed the Distributed Energy Roadmap – and Western Power is busy with Project Symphony, aggregating electricity from 500 homes and businesses in Atwell, Harrisdale and Piara Waters.

However, regional customers do not always feel like their needs are addressed in this area.

Their response? To work cooperatively to help each other out, as country Australians have been doing for a century or more.

So, on Thursday 18th August, members of several regional WA communities travelled to the town of Katanning to meet with other like-minded West Australians with a passion for regional community energy.

The meeting was attended by 20 proponents of renewable energy coming from several community energy groups in the Southwest, Great Southern, and Wheatbelt regions of Western Australia.

The group met face to face with Board members and staff of Katanning Energy and with other community energy proponents from regional locations in Western Australia who ‘beamed’ in over zoom to be present.

Those represented included Katanning Energy, Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy, Totally Renewable Denmark (who run the Denmark Community Wind Farm), Transition Bridgetown and their umbrella group Bridgetown Energy Transition, and Clever CLOGS community organisation for climate change, who are from Pemberton. Geraldton Clean Energy was also invited, though unfortunately was unable to attend. We hope they will be able to join us in future!

The meeting was instigated by Rose Ferrell, Convenor of Clever Clogs – perhaps the newest amongst the regional groups – who each seek to create a renewable energy resource for their respective regional towns.

The aim of the meeting was to learn about each other’s work and to build a support network to forward regional community energy.

This is the first event of this kind, and it won’t be the last! Coming together to discuss these projects afforded the opportunity to learn from each other and to share knowledge, experience, and frustrations.

Each of the regional groups is at different stages in their clean energy journey – Pemberton’s Clever Clogs are in the early stages of engaging community members to become part of a steering committee for that project, while Transition Bridgetown would like to move into community energy but have not decided on a specific project as yet.

At the established end, Katanning’s solar project is up and running, and Denmark has been supplying wind-generated power to 50% of its Shire since 2013.

As such, a motion was proposed and supported which will see the groups work together as an informal alliance known as the Community Renewable Energy Alliance of Towns and Enterprises (CREATE Community Energy).

The goal of CREATE Community Energy will be to lobby government to build more streamlined and inexpensive pathways to community energy independence.

Associate membership will also be available to advocacy groups and individuals (including private sector businesses) who seek to support the energy transition in regional areas.

CREATE Community Energy members expect to meet in person again at a stakeholder workshop to be held in Bridgetown in November 2022.

Ms Ferrell has been working with researchers from Murdoch University and other potential partners and advocates over the previous months to design the workshop.

That event will give CREATE Community Energy members the opportunity to discuss their difficulties and needs in advance of preparing a report to be presented to the State government before the end of the year.

The report is expected to outline the barriers and obstacles to community energy projects, as well as emphasise the need for them in the face of climate change.

CREATE Community Energy comes at an important time in history – as the new Federal Labor government is stepping up Australia’s responsibilities to cut carbon emissions in line with other nations.

Community energy is being effectively embraced across the eastern seaboard in Australia, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales.

In Victoria, the government has supported this popular movement by setting up Community Power Hubs, which have advanced many community-driven energy projects.

Ms Ferrell would like to see similar support being offered to Western Australian regional communities in the near future – and at Clean State, we stand behind her!

If you’d like to find out more about CREATE Community Energy or any of the projects we’ve listed, reach out to Ms Ferrell using the details below:

Media Contact: Rose Ferrell
Mob: 0437 485 237

A big thank you to Rose Ferrell for providing the content for this article.


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