Energise Gloucester Newsletter No 23

Energise Gloucester Newsletter No 23
Aug 11, 2020

Chairman’s Note

Dear Members,

We are very pleased to let you know that despite the restrictions caused by COVID-19, we have been able to make good progress on several of our projects.

  • We are making real progress with the Solar Farm.
  • The Neighbourhood Centre has paid off their Rooftop Solar system and we have paid back all our community lenders.  See the benefits below.
  • NSW Fair Trading has given approval to register the Gloucester Community Solar Co-op Ltd, so very soon we will be able to offer shares in the Solar Farm.

Even though we can’t have community meetings, we are making good progress and will endeavour to keep you informed with regular updates with this Newsletter.  Don’t forget to check out our website.  So please continue your membership and renew your subscription for 2020/21.

You may have also noticed that household solar systems are rapidly expanding so the electricity market has had to adjust to this as indicated in the news article below.

Yours with energy


Membership Renewal

It's that time of the year again to renew your membership, still just $10. Follow the link below to renew your membership, or pay any committee member. Also, please let us know if you have changed your home address or email so we can keep our records up to date.

Project Updates

Neighbourhood Centre Solar Roof Project

With a final payment to Energise Gloucester at the end of June 2020, the BWNG became the owners of their 30kW solar system.  This means that all the electricity generated can be used by them and their electricity bills will be reduced by about $15 000 per year.  This greatly reduces their operating costs and hence benefits our community.

EG Committee handing over the solar system to the BWNG
EG Committee handing over the solar system to the BWNG

Energise Gloucester has been able to pay back the $25 000 lent by EG members for this project. Without this support, and the donation of $10 000 given by the electricity retailer Powershop, this project would not have been possible.  Thanks to these people; a great gift as their loans were interest free.  Thanks also to John Edwards for his assistance in managing the technical and contractual aspects of the project.

Solar Farm

As you know the project has had to slow down because of COVID-19 restrictions.  A revised process and timetable is being discussed with the Regional Community Energy Fund team so that the project can be finished on time.  It is still planned to generate electricity in early 2022.

The Committee is proposing to contract a project management company to help us “speed-up” some of the technical aspects such as final design, construction contracts, grid connection and power purchase agreement. We hope to have a contract agreed in the next few months so that we can still reach Financial Close on the project by mid-2021 and construction by the end of 2021.

Due to the challenges of the original site being sold, we have had to modify our approach and new sites are being shortlisted.  Six sites have been inspected and these are being evaluated for their suitability based on environmental, construction costs and grid connection characteristics.  It is planned to make a final selection in September and then proceed with Council approval and final design.

Gloucester Community Solar Co-operative Ltd

Energise Gloucester is an Incorporated Association and is “not for profit” so any funds must be used internally.  A key aspect of the Solar Farm Project will be raising the community funds needed to support the Grant.  This is the role of the newly established Co-operative.  It will be called the Gloucester Community Solar Co-operative Ltd (GCSC) and has now been approved through NSW Fair Trading.

Over the last couple of months Jim De Silva, John Watts and David Marston have worked through this process and have developed a Constitution, Business Plan and Disclosure Statement.  These documents have been approved by the Committee of Energise Gloucester and NSW Fair Trading.  The next step is to hold a Formation Meeting and appoint Directors.  The Co-op will then be registered and can commence public activities such as issuing a Prospectus for Shares.  We have seven people who have nominated as initial Directors, but if anyone else is interested they can talk to David Marston over the next two weeks.  The nominated directors are (in alphabetical order) Neill Bencke, Peter Buettel, Jan Goroncy, Naomi Kilby, David Marston, Dianne Montague and John Watts.

It is planned to hold the first public meeting in October, subject to NSW COVID-19 restrictions for meetings and social distancing.  This will launch the prospectus and provide an update on the Solar Farm development.  We have been awarded $460,000 from the NSW Government’s Regional Community Energy Fund and need to raise $380,000 in community funds through shares in order to build the system at a total cost of $970,000 (including pro bono and other contributions).

People will be able to become members of the Co-op and then purchase shares.  Active members will be able to participate in decisions of the Co-op about electricity sales (policy and prices), dividend rates and management of the solar farm.  We are certainly looking forward to going public on these exciting developments in October.

(Disclaimer:  The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the NSW Government. The NSW Government does not accept responsibility for any information or advice contained herein)

Latest News - Renewable Energy

At last in Australia, we are starting to get an energy plan.  The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released its 20-year blueprint to make sure that the shift from coal to a grid dominated by wind, solar and storage can happen smoothly and will deliver the promised savings in costs and emissions.  In their Integrated System Plan, residential, industrial and commercial consumers are expected to continue to invest heavily in renewable systems, storage and load management.  

Depending on the scenario, and subject to technical requirements, the AEMO modelling suggests that locally generated (or distributed) energy could provide 13-22% of total underlying annual energy consumption by 2040.
For more information see www.aemo.com.au/newsroom/media-release/isp-2020

According to industry analysis, growth in rooftop solar systems is continuing at record pace, with 275MW of small-scale rooftop solar capacity (under 100kW) installed in July 2020. Australia now has over 2.5 million household systems.