Enova, the new community-owned energy retailer that is targeting 100 per cent renewable energy for its customers in the northern Rivers region of NSW, says it is focused not just on wind and solar and storage, but on reinvesting its profits in the local community.
The Byron Bay-based company is seeking $4 million in a public share offer to help it establish Australia’s first community owned retailer, and the first to offer a pathway to 100 renewable energy for household and business customers.
It has been holding a series of meetings in towns across the northern Rivers, and in Sydney. And it hopes to raise at least $3 million by the close of its offer in late September. It released its prospectus last week.
According to chairperson Alison Crook, the focus is on local generation, and local investment. She says around $80 million in profits from the electricity market go out of the region each year to owners of businesses headquartered elsewhere.
“There is a significant leakage of economic value from the northern Rivers area,” the company says in it prospectus.
Enova plans to return 40 per cent of its dividends to its shareholders, many of whom will be local, and an equivalent amount to its not-for-profit division, which will focus on education programs and supplying renewable energy and energy efficiency to low income families.
Enova is also trying to carve an environmental niche in a market dominated by major players.
The current market is dominated by Origin Energy, which is heavily invested in coal seam gas – a fiercely contested technology in the northern Rivers. T
he New Zealand owned PowerShop is also making a major push into the area, but Enova points out that it will source its renewable energy from local wind and solar resources, while PowerShop provides some of its renewable energy from UN-sanctioned credits from landfill gas projects in South America and Asia.
“Enova’s goal is to be a trusted source of renewable energy retail supply because our values are aligned to the customer base that we are targeting.
“While the smaller new entrants in the market may similarly offer green energy options, they are not locally based nor do they offer a full suite of tailored energy solutions.”
Enova describes itself as “pioneering a community owned energy retail model that provides a pathway towards offering 100% renewable energy to our residential and small business customers.”
It notes that in Germany, 47 per cent of renewable installations are owned by community groups, and community owned and in the US farmer and community-owned wind farm developments have emerged offering new local energy models.
“We believe the energy industry is going through a transition in which generation will move away from fossil fuels and distribution will progressively become more decentralised, particularly in regional Australia,” it says.
“It is our belief that this is likely to take place over a 10 – 20 year period, Enova believes the community needs a flexible and nimble community retail company able to respond to community wishes and act locally.”
In short, it says, it intends to progress from this … centralised fossil fuels…
to this … local, renewable generation and on occasions, off grid.
Enova’s target is 8,000 customers by 2021, around 6 per cent of the local market, with an interim target of 5,000 customers, or 4 per cent of households.
It is seeking to tap into one of Australia’s most “green-minded” communities. It estimates 26,000 of the 130,000 local energy customers are so disposed, and a similar number already have rooftop solar.
Enova will offer rooftop solar and battery storage to customers, and will also provide services helping or advising customers to go off-grid, and to repair and fix installations that have been poorly installed over recent years.
“Enova’s large competitors offer GreenPower – which is made up of high quality, accredited Australian generated renewable energy – as a full price add-on. Enova will offer GreenPower at discounted prices as its core offering.
“Enova also differentiates itself from those competitors whose environmental claims are in our view confusing and based on their parent’s generation portfolio, not what they sell as a retailer, which is predominantly fossil fuel electricity sourced from the grid. Enova’s environmental credentials will be transparently strong in comparison.”
Enova also intends to source renewable energy from rooftop solar installations on homes and businesses, offering attrative feed in tariff than its competitors, and from community projects.