On the 24th of August 2023 the first meeting of the working group for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Funds was held. Through our 2023 democratic budget, as part of our service budget customer members chose to allocate $17,500 to the Renewable Energy Fund and $12,000 to the Energy Efficiency fund. Our service budget is what we use on helping out our customer members. We allocate this money to priority areas which then invests in services over the course of the year that reduce the cost-of-living pressures for our customer members, help them get off fossil fuels or deliver major capabilities that help our customer members better engage with the cooperative like upgrades to our billing and payments systems or tracking their household energy usage.
The working group made a number of final recommendations for circulation on Renewable Energy and started a preliminary discussion on Energy Efficiency.
From the meeting, CoPower’s commitment to inter-cooperative solidarity was affirmed. We are recommending re-investing $17,500 into cooperatively-owned renewable energy assets, and our initial discussion on energy efficiency is exploring what portion of our $12,000.00 can be invested into the Earthworker Smart Energy Cooperative for CoPower member benefit. When cooperatives act in solidarity with each other we can build a new, sustainable and democratic economy.
Renewable Energy Fund Recommendations:
Join Haystacks Cooperative and purchase 2 plots in the Haystacks solar garden at the 1.5 MW Grong Grong Solar Farm in the Riverina region of NSW. CoPower has assisted Haystacks connect with Energy Locals as the retailer for this new solar garden model which enables those without access to their own roof space, such as renters, to benefit from Solar PV through having a credit applied to their bill from the solar produced over 10 years. The credits from the solar plots that CoPower purchases could be allocated using equity indicators to customer members in need or through the democratic budget process.
This investment is a way through which we can explore extending the benefits of the solar garden model to those renters who cannot afford the investment to buy a plot themselves.
2. Invest approximately $9,000 to Goulburn Community Energy Cooperative
Join Goulburn Community Energy Cooperative and invest in the 1.8 MW new solar farm and battery project on the Southern Tablelands of NSW. The return from the investment could be used to re-invest to upscale CoPower’s renewable energy portfolio into the future as part of the overall democratic budgeting process.
Solidarity is only solidarity when it it both welcome and helpful. While preliminary reachout has occurred with both cooperatives above, in the event that the final projected investment is not welcome with one of them then the full $17,500.00 balance will go the other willing investment partner.
3. Explore behind the meter solar installations for community centers and other non-profit organizations
This recommendation relates to the Impact Budget where $9,000 has been allocated to invest in Community Renewables. CoPower should explore models for community organizations to host CoPower owned solar generation. The community organizations would benefit from behind the meter solar and there would be a discussion on how this could be used, in turn, benefit households in their community.
Energy Efficiency Fund Discussion
There are many passionate and experienced energy efficiency advocates across our cooperative. Customer members also identify that it can be a confusing area to navigate and difficult to know where to start. The proposal is for a working group to form to continue to discuss this and explore interventions to support energy efficiency across the cooperative.
2. Explore opportunities thorough Earthworker Smart Energy Cooperative
Earthworker Smart Energy Cooperative (ESEC) is a worker-cooperative specializing in energy efficiency assessments and draught proofing, which is part of the Earthworker eco-system and a part-owner of CoPower. The group should explore further opportunities that ESEC can deliver for our cooperative.
The next working group meeting is scheduled for 10am AEST on Thursday the 7th of September. This meeting will consider the options for the Energy Efficiency Fund and make recommendations as well as get updates on feedback and/or implementation of the Renewable Energy Fund recommendations.
Register for the next working group meeting by clicking here.
If any member has questions, comments or feedback about either the Renewable Energy recommendations for circulation or the Energy Efficiency discussion please reach us at [email protected]