Friday, November 29, 2013

Community-based renewables - what future now?

We have been shareholders of Hepburn Wind, a community-based renewables cooperative since inception.  Hepburn  have just had their AGM and released this report.  Lots of good developments threatened unfortunately by the changing policy context.

"On Saturday 23 November we held our AGM at the Daylesford Secondary School theatre and are most grateful to the 100+ members who showed up and participated in the official business of running our co-operative. We also had a good additional crowd show up to hear the keynote address by Professor Tim Flannery.
With Tony Gill and Simon Holmes à Court co-chairing the meeting we managed to successfully pass a number of special resolutions, present the 2012/13 annual report and share ideas with and answer questions from our members.

Members ratified the election of Candy Broad and Daniel Magasanik to the board. We are looking forward to Daniel’s second term and to welcoming Candy and her unique skills and experience. At the AGM we took the opportunity to farewell and thank Dan Cass who retired having served a full three year term on the board.

Professor Tim Flannery gave a compelling presentation updating us on the latest climate science developments and the work of the new Climate Council. Tim commended our community for our local response to the challenge and the leadership we have shown.

Aaron van Egmond, CEO of the Hepburn Shire, updated members about council’s renewable energy plans and our energy partner Red Energy explained our joint retail offering, the Community Saver. We were also pleased to host representatives from both VicWind and Yes2Renewables — two important groups who do great work in supporting and educating communities in the area of wind energy.

Carbon tax repeal submission

When our community committed to building its own wind farm, we knew we'd have a lot of challenges to overcome. But with each of the major parties committed (at the time) to both making carbon polluters pay and growing the clean energy sector, we knew we could count on our leaders to provide a favourable policy environment.

Or so we thought.
Changes in Canberra are radically shifting the goalposts for clean energy and for our co-operative. Just 18 months after big polluters started having to pay for dumping carbon pollution into our atmosphere, Australia is on the cusp of unwinding these important environmental gains.

Our members are watching the proposed legislative repeal with great concern and last week we made a submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications’ Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013. We have explained the likely impact of the repeal on our project and ultimately on our community. We encourage members and supporters to read our submission.

Along with the millions of Australians who are investors in renewable energy infrastructure through their superannuation funds and the thousands of Australians who work in the clean energy sector, the members of Hepburn Wind have a reasonable expectation that changes in government policy will not harm their interests.

Hepburn Wind farm was built by our community for the benefit of our community. The repeal of the Carbon Pricing Mechanism introduces a significant sovereign risk to the member investors of our co-operative."

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