Community renewables hub launches in north-west New South Wales

A not-for-profit renewable energy hub has opened in the north-west New South Wales town of Narrabri, to help break down the barriers to the development of community-owned solar and wind power projects.

The hub, called Geni.Energy, was launched online on Monday by the local member for Barwon, alongside key stakeholders and technology leaders who will also offer their support and advice to aspiring community renewables developers in the region.

The independent group says it will help people and businesses with questions on electricity prices and solar feed-in tariffs, and analyse electricity bills to calculate of the best mix of solar panels and batteries, and the best finance options to pay for them.

“The first objective for our not-for-profit organisation is to provide an independent venue for people wanting to unlock the real potential for renewable energy such as calculating the benefits of solar and battery installations,” said Geni.Energy director Rohan Boehm.

“For many energy users, especially those with big energy bills, batteries are now proving to be an important part of extracting better long-term benefits from their solar installations,” Boehm added.

“With this year’s drop in feed-in tariffs, many are finding that storing energy rather than exporting it, is making greater sense now.”

Geni.Energy will also partner with Enova Energy, Australia’s first community-owned energy retailer, established in Byron Bay in the northern rivers region of New South Wales.

Since its launch as a niche retailer, Enova has gone from strength to strength, trying its hand at peer-to-peer solar trading, “solar garden” initiatives, and a Byron Bay microgrid.

“Like Enova, Geni.Energy’s profits will …be directed to regional community building and job creation initiatives,” Boehm.

Enova said it would support the Narrabri and north-west communities and businesses by donating $50 to each new customer to Geni-Energy towards their community-owned energy initiatives.

“For Enova, this is all about supporting locals to build their resilience,” said Enova CEO Felicity Stening.

“We do not believe there is need for new gas projects in this region or in Australia when partnerships and communities can generate, store and share their owned renewable energy.”

Mudgee-based regional NBN specialist, Harbour ISP, is also contributing to the hub, providing specialised regional Internet services through Geni.Energy.

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