A community organisation has launched a campaign for donation and investor-funded renewable energy generators in the northern rivers town of Mullumbimby, as part of a push to have the town source all its power needs from renewable energy.
COREM – Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby –
attracted nearly 300 residents to its launch on Sunday, which also included representatives from Enova Energy, which on Friday became the first community-owned energy retailer
to obtain a licence to sell electricity to consumers in Australia. Enova will operate in the region surrounding the town.
Mullumbimby is one of a number of towns, communities and regions seeking to go 100% renewable, or “zero net energy”. COREM’s focus, however, is on community ownership.
It is seeking tax-deductible donations to fund its first small projects – a 10kW rooftop solar on the local Drill Hall Theatre, and a 5kW rooftop solar system on the neighbourhood centre.
It is also seeking “investor” donations to help fund a 60kW rooftop solar system on a sewage plant, to be known as the Valence Road community solar farm. The idea is for the plant to consume all the output of the solar panels, and deliver a return to investors, possibly of around 6 per cent per annum.
Rob Passey, a northern rivers resident who works at UNSW and is one of the founders of COREM, said community ownership meant that the more renewable energy could be installed, and the benefits would remain in the region.
Savings to the Drill Hall Theatre in subsequent electricity bills would be split between the theatre and COREM’s Revolving Community Energy Fund, providing it with a platform to invest in more local solar partnerships.
COREM would seek to link up with Enova, the community owned retailer, and sell the output of excess solar from its rooftop systems to the new retailer.
Passey said the concept had received strong support from the local council, which owns some of the premises, and numerous local businesses, such as the Rock n’ Roll Coffee Company, were interested in hosting rooftop solar systems.
It had also received strong support from donors and investors, with more than $26,000 in donations “indicated” in a pre-launch poll, and more than $300,000 in potential investor money.