Last year as you know our AGM was delayed due to the COVID crisis. We have now rescheduled this for Thursday, 28 April 2022. This will be held at 5:00 pm in Senior Citizens Centre, Hume Street, Gloucester. Following this, at 6:00 pm, will be a public meeting to explain what we are about, and to discuss where we are up to with our projects. So invite all your friends to come along. You would have also received an email about the AGM with a nomination form attached. So please consider joining the Committee and sharing your ideas and skills.
There is a petition from the Community Power Agency in support of Regional Renewable Energy. More information and how to sign the petition are included below.
Energise Gloucester will be at the Gloucester Show, with information about energy use efficiency, how to save energy, how to check your electricity plan and save on your electricity bill, and of course lots to tell you about our projects. Come and have a chat, tell us your ideas, pick up a brochure or two.
Choosing an electricity retail provider for your house (or business) can be complicated and confusing. The retailers offer “Plans” that determine what:
you pay for the electricity you use;
you pay for service changes; i.e. the cost of being connected to the grid; and
rate you’ll get paid for exporting electricity to the grid, if you have a PV Solar system.
In Gloucester you can buy electricity from 27 different licensed providers; companies that retail the electricity that they buy from the generation companies (e.g. power stations/solar farm/wind farm). To give you even more choice, each of these retailers offer a range of plans and variations within these plans. In fact the 27 providers in Gloucester are currently offering 123 different plans.
The electricity is distributed from the “power station” to your house via a “poles and wires” grid system. In Gloucester, this is operated by Essential Energy. Essential Energy does not sell electricity but charges your chosen provider to maintain the grid and this cost is dot point 2 above – the service charge.
If there is an electrical problem with:
the grid or a blackout, Essential Energy is responsible for fixing the problem.
in your house, you have to arrange for a commercial electrician to fix it.
the meter in your switchboard, your retailer has to arrange to get it fixed.
Generally, the system works smoothly. You chose a retailer, a plan and pay the bill. However, the amount your retailer can charge you for electricity can vary from year to year.
Choosing a retailer and an appropriate plan for you is very important and affects the amount you will pay. To assist you in choosing a plan, the Government has set up the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). The AER requires that all retailers provide all their customers, with the same information, set out in the same Standard format in what is called a “Residential Electricity Plan” (REP) document.
In the REP retailers must provide the following information:
The unit price for electricity under the offer, and how this may be varied by the retailer, such as time of day billing;
The daily supply charge;
Fees that may be charged: such as account establishment fees; exit fees; late payment fees; disconnection and reconnection fees; and payment processing fees etc;
Discounts and incentives available; such as loyalty incentives or discounts; one-off discounts; pay on time and other contingent discounts; dual fuel discounts; direct debit discounts etc;
The length of the contract;
How to get the full terms and conditions of the contract; and
Retailers contact details
Using the REPs you can compare one retailer with another and one plan with another, and make an informed choice about which retail plan is best for you. To help you do this the AER has set up “Energy Made Easy”. This is an energy price comparison service for households and small businesses in New South Wales and other states.
You can access this through a free website: https://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/. This will enable you to compare one retailer with another for your energy usage. Hence you can make a more informed decision about which plan is best for you this year.
As this website is operated by the AER and not by the energy companies, the information is accurate and independent. It aims to help residential and small business customers make more informed decisions about the cost of their electricity.
It’s a very difficult area to understand hence the government has made it very effort to make it clearer. If you would like to talk to someone about it, contact Energise Gloucester on 0438 316 644.
Regional Community Energy – Federal action needed
Two years ago, Independent Federal MP Helen Haines sought to initiate a co-design process to develop the Local Power Plan, by introducing the Australian Local Power Agency Bill (ALPA) to the Federal Parliament.
A key part of the ALPA bill is to establish 50 Community Power Hubs across regional Australia. These Hubs would 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.
While it hasn’t been successful in its current form, the Bill has enormous support from almost every electorate around the country - and from some of our most influential national organisations, such as the National Farmers Federation.
We must build on this bedrock of support to make sure both major parties know that at the federal election community-owned renewables are a vote winner. Click on the link below for more information.
Here’s to repowering regional communities with renewables.
We have advised you that the Solar Farm has been delayed because we needed to revise the design and improve the financial viability. Our technical advisors have recommended that we add a battery facility to the project. This will increase the cost but greatly improve the income due to an ability to sell when electricity demand (and hence price) is higher.
The technical details of this are being finalised and the grid connection application to Essential Energy has been revised. Then a full costing and financial analysis will be possible.
After our AGM in April, we will conduct a public meeting to explain the latest position and timetable.
EV Recharging Station and Solar Carpark
We are having discussions with MidCoast Council about establishing some electric vehicle recharging stations and the construction of a solar car park in town.
The car park will provide shade as well as electricity so a double benefit. As the Council owns suitable land for this they have made an application to the State Government for a number of electric vehicle recharging facilities in Gloucester.
Energise Gloucester is exploring opportunities for funding to construct solar car parking facilities.