With renewable energy on the rise, the Victorian Government recently launched the Renewable Energy Roadmap, outlining initiatives to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects across Victoria.
When feedback on the Roadmap was sought, the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA) teamed with the Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance (GBGA) to provide a joint response.
“We welcomed the opportunity to comment and congratulate the government on its ambition to establish Victoria as a leader in a clean energy future that supports job growth,” CVGA Executive Officer Melanie Tranter said.
“Our two alliances represent 21 regional and rural councils across northern and central Victoria, all working collaboratively for a sustainable future.
“The best renewable energy resource opportunities — and the jobs and profits that flow from them — are located here in regional Australia, so, we’ve welcomed the road map process as an opportunity to influence the remarkable shift now underway.
“Nationally, we’re clearly in the early stages of an historic change that will see multimillion dollar investments in renewable energy in regional areas.”
Ms Tranter explained that in addition to looking at opportunities, the joint submission also focused on making sure no one gets left behind in the shift to renewables.
“Moving to a renewable energy economy in our regions is no longer a concept, it’s happening now, so, our feedback was about us all working together to ensure this change happens in a targeted and efficient way, with everyone having the chance to share in the benefits.
“For example, we want to see people on low incomes having a greater chance to install solar panels on their homes.
“Currently, relatively high upfront costs remain when investing in renewable energy, it’s important planning takes that challenge into account.”
“Ensuring small business see benefits from these opportunities is critical for us, too.”
The alliances’ submission also focused on little known but important topics including Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs), which allow lenders to provide finance to building owners for environmental upgrades.
EUAs also mean local councils can then collect repayments through the rates system, before passing them back to the lender. Use of the rates system means loans are more secure, allowing lenders to offer more attractive terms.
“We welcome innovative legislation that drives change, like the legislation extending the availability of EUAs across the state,” Ms Tranter said.
“Climate change alliances like ours – supported as we are by local government –- are perfectly positioned to play a central role in promoting EUAs and other similarly innovative approaches.”
Ms Tranter said a low-emissions future was the responsibility of all levels of government and that the local governments backing her organisation and the Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance took that responsibility seriously.
“The locations of our member councils mean we’re in unique positions to achieve Victoria’s renewable energy targets and to see the many benefits that flow from that achievement.
“We’re looking forward to working with the State Government to ensure we grasp these chances,” Ms Tranter said.
Consultation on the Renewable Energy Roadmap will feed into the development of the Victorian Renewable Energy Action Plan, setting long-term actions to drive renewable energy investment across Victoria, including establishing a renewable energy generation target and policies to assist communities to power their neighbourhoods from renewable sources.