Victoria opens $1 million in new govt grants for community energy

Victorian community groups are set to receive a boost in support for new community energy enterprises, with the Victorian government making the latest round of funding available under the New Energy Jobs Fund.

Under the Fund, an additional $1 million in grants will be made available to Victorian community groups to invest in new renewable energy projects as well as innovative new enterprises looking to expand into the clean energy sector, with the aim of delivering additional investment and job opportunities to regional areas.

“We’re putting the power back in the hands of the community. This will create more local jobs across Victoria,” Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“Victoria’s regional areas are leading the charge with renewable energy. There is so much momentum in Victoria’s towns and regions, because they are seeing the benefits of this technology and the jobs it creates.”

The new round of grants for community renewables businesses comes as the Victorian government releases a set of five regional renewable energy roadmaps.

The roadmaps, covering the Barwon South West region, the Grampians, Loddon Mallee, Gippsland and the Hume region, outlines the renewable energy opportunities in each of the regions, and the benefits that can be delivered to local businesses through new investment.

The $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund has already delivered support for 59 projects across Victoria, with around two-thirds of the projects being deployed in regional areas and three-quarters of projects being community energy projects.

Groups that have previously received funding include Victorian electric heavy vehicle manufacturer SEA Electric, supported the Totally Renewable Yackandandah project and helped to fund the development of a business case for a community energy retailer in the Indigo Shire.

Indigo Power, based in the Indigo Shire region, recently completed a successful investment round that will see the new community owned electricity retailer expand across new parts of regional Victoria.

The Victorian government is seeking to target companies working in “high growth, high value industries”, and has seen funding awarded to Victorian based solar thermal start-up RayGen and energy demand management software company GreenSync, as the companies seek to expand their offerings into international markets.

Leigh Ewbank, climate spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, welcomed the announcement of additional support for Victorian clean energy projects, calling on the Andrews government to expand such support under a Covid-19 economic recovery plan.

“The Andrews government’s targeted funding for community-owned renewables is a welcome boost for those championing Victorian climate solutions at the local level,” Ewbank said.

“Funding for community energy projects builds momentum for the state government’s forthcoming announcement of state-wide Emissions Reduction Targets.”

“The New Energy Jobs Fund demonstrates that climate action creates jobs and fosters new industries. The Andrews government has an opportunity to create thousands more jobs by scaling up proven programs in its post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan,” Ewbank added.

Applications for funding under the new round of the New Energy Jobs Fund will be open until 18 June.

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