SA councils launch tender for "bigger better" community energy plan


 
A group of six councils in South Australia has launched a tender for “a bigger and better way” to boost regional uptake of rooftop solar, battery storage and other electricity and cost saving technologies.
The tender for a Community Energy Program was issued by the City of Victor Harbor on Wednesday on behalf of a consortium of councils from the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island regions and on behalf of its combined community of 120,000 people.
The consortium, known as Resilient Hills & Coasts, was founded in 2013 with the aim of combining local government forces in the battle to reduce carbon emissions, boost regional economies and cut electricity use and costs.
In June this year, the group – which includes the Adelaide Hills Council, Alexandrina Council, the City of Victor Harbor, the District Council of Yankalilla, Kangaroo Island Council and Mount Barker District Council – signed up to their own local government Climate Change Adaptation pact.
This week’s tender calls for proposals to help households and businesses in the region access a broad range of renewable energy and associated technologies, most likely including rooftop solar, battery storage, as well as energy management and internet-of-things solutions.
The successful program would also need to assist people on low incomes to cut their energy consumption and costs, without compromising the supply of essential services.
The councils are also looking to educate the community on the benefits of “climate ready houses” and buildings that maximise energy efficiency and the use of renewables, and to set up and secure a revenue stream to fund ongoing delivery of the Community Energy Program by Resilient Hills & Coast partner councils.
The tender offers three example models of how this might be achieved – a council managed bulk buy scheme; an outsourced bulk buy scheme; a partnership with a community retailer – but has stressed that it is open to broad range of possible model designs and technology mixes.
A previous bulk buy campaign run by three of the six councils in 2009, including Victor Harbor, appears to have been a success, with rooftop solar already installed on more than 40 per cent of households across much of the region.
The same program was replicated in 2011/12 by the South Australian Local Government Association, with some 35 councils across the state signing up on behalf of their communities.
But the tender suggests it might be looking for a different approach this time around, or perhaps just a different suite of technologies – particularly in light of the rapid evolution of the market, and the huge amount of innovation, much of it home grown, that has been built around this.
For this reason, too, the tender offers no real specifics on the amount of new generation capacity it is hoping to install, or the scope of the community energy program it is looking to roll out.
“City of Victor Harbor has the go ahead to test the market on behalf of the Resilient Hills & Coasts region, seeking proposals for a bigger and better community energy campaign,” a Council statement says.
And while all proposals “must involve the use of renewable energy”, the tender document states that it is technology agnostic, and wishes to explore “all current opportunities that exist in the market that can be proven to work in a regional context.”
The ‘Request for Proposal’ document will be available on the Tenders SA website (www.tenders.sa.gov.au) from Tuesday 28 November 2017. The closing date for submission is Thursday 25 January 2018.

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