The Parliamentary Inquiry into the Local Power Plan will conduct a public hearing on Friday about the Bill introduced by Independent Federal Member for Indi, Helen Haines.
Community energy groups, peak bodies, councils and state and federal government agencies will give evidence to the committee, responding to Dr Haines’ Local Power Plan.
“The response to my office to the Local Power Plan has been overwhelming.,” Dr Haines said.
“This shows the sheer size of the pent-up energy and enthusiasm across regional Australia to act on the golden economic opportunity in locally-owned renewables.”
The powerful House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy is inquiring into two bills developed by Dr Haines in consultation with the community and an expert panel. The bills would establish the Australian Local Power Agency, which would fund and support community-based energy projects.
“The hearing will showcase some of the most compelling submissions, and the wide-ranging support for the Local Power Plan,” Dr Haines said.
“I’m looking forward to hearing directly from regional Australians about what the Australian Local Power Agency could do for them.”
The committee website shows submissions were received from every state and territory across Australia, from individuals with solar panels on their roofs, to community groups and companies, local councils and mayors, national peaks from across the political spectrum, and state government departments.
“The high number, and the quality and depth of submissions, shows that regional Australians are already taking advantage of the renewable energy boom, and the Government needs to get behind them,” Dr Haines said.
“There is widespread support for the plan and the Government must listen to what regional Australians are saying.”
Some highlights from the submissions from those appearing at the hearing tomorrow include:
“The Australian Local Power Agency could play a pivotal role for Australia’s energy future, supporting more community energy projects like our own and unlocking significant benefits for regional communities.
The agency would reduce the multitude of existing barriers that slow or halt community energy projects and facilitate greater community engagement and participation in our energy system. This would not only strengthen local economies but build a more just transition, enhancing social license for these much needed technologies.” – Hepburn Wind
“North East Victoria is largely dependent on the power generated in the Gippsland Region and transmitted by large power lines. Every bushfire season we are vulnerable to the loss of towers and power lines. Renewable energy owned by the community and locally based allows a far more resilient industry and community.” – Renewable Energy Albury Wodonga
“ALPA will provide financial, technical and information support to the many regional areas crying out for support through the transition.
The Bill, if passed, will provide our regions with the tools required to build resilience in the face of a changing climate.” – Farmers for Climate Action
“The NFF supports the role of the ALPA to offer financial assistance and provide technical expertise in the development of community energy projects, especially small and mid-scale projects. It is a crucial step to support regional development that recognises the difficulties in deriving relevant expertise, especially in smaller communities.
There are untapped economic opportunities in the bush. The NFF supports the proposal to establish the Australian Local Power Agency, and its role in solving the energy challenge that will facilitate these opportunities.” – National Farmers Federation
If the ALPA bills were legislated, a new $467 million Agency would support regional communities to develop and invest in their own renewable energy projects.
This would include establishing 50 Local Power Hubs across regional Australia to support communities to develop their own renewable energy projects through grants of up to $500,000 a year for five years, as well as new forms of financial support including loans.
The ALPA bills would also implement a new requirement that all large-scale renewable projects offer local residents a chance to invest in them.
Following the hearing, the Committee will make recommendations to government about whether to adopt Dr Haines’ Bill to establish the new agency, with a final report to be considered by the Committee on Wednesday 20 or 27 October.
It will then be up to the Government to act on the views of regional Australians and the Parliament.