Community engagement strategies when planning new projects

  • Session Topic
    Community Energy

Community engagement strategies when planning new projects

3 Oct 2018, 1:40 PM - 3:00 PM

Room 217
English (Australia)

Chair: Taryn Lane, Community Energy Congress


Case study: Driving improvements in community engagement & benefit sharing through the Victorian Renewable Energy Auction Scheme

Kirrily Noonan, Principal Policy Adviser, Energy Commercial Projects & Programs, DELWP 

As part of the Victorian Renewable Energy Auction Scheme (VREAS), the Victorian Government released Community Engagement and Benefit Sharing in Renewable Energy Development in late 2017. This guide sets out the government’s expectations for how the renewable energy industry should engage with communities to ensure that the benefits from these developments are shared in an equitable way with the host communities. Meeting a certain standard of community engagement and benefit sharing was a requirement for projects seeking funding through VREAS.

This presentation will provide a case study looking at how the government setting expectations has driven changes in practice in the renewable energy industry. We hope to be able to provide some innovative examples of community engagement and benefit sharing from the VREAS bids (TBC).


Creative conflict management and how to develop positive relationships with local communities

Jen McDonnell, Principal Stakeholder Engagement Consultant, WSP

Ellen Buswell, Associate Stakeholder Engagement Consultant, WSP

Clean energy projects - that often involve major infrastructure development and the introduction of visual and other impacts in relative proximity to communities - can face challenges building positive relationships and gaining acceptance among local communities and stakeholders. As project proponents navigate approval processes and attempt to build social acceptance and public trust, conflict and opposition can arise which may cause costly delays and even threaten a project’s ability to proceed. 

This presentation will explore approaches to maximise your chances of developing successful community relations, and how to constructively manage conflict if it does arise. The key steps and approaches that can support the development of positive, respectful relationships and community support will be discussed, including the importance of honesty and inclusivity, approaches for getting the community involved in designing your engagement program, the benefits of a peer to peer model for engagement, the role of community benefits and incentives, and how to manage community concerns. 

Case studies will be shared highlighting examples of ‘engagement stories’ that have achieved strong support from the local community, including community participation, development of local advocates, and peer to peer engagement. 

Some of the underlying factors that can affect the way a project is perceived will be discussed (such as the perceived fairness/lack of fairness, the sense of control or otherwise a community may feel, and the connection between benefits received and risk perception). The presentation will introduce concepts of conflict management, including how to maximise your chances of successful negotiation and resolution and creating opportunities for constructive dialogue that can lead to mutual understanding and more informed decision-making. This includes conflict diagnosis; how to understand our own triggers; ways to approach conflict, for example from a values-based approach; and how to view conflict as normal and healthy and an opportunity to reach better, more sustainable decisions. 


Making friends and influencing people: How to help customers become active participants in the grid

Laura Jones, Senior Network Innovation Engineer, TasNetworks

The future energy network will include an increasing amount of distributed resources. The benefits of these resources providing services to energy markets, networks, and other market participants are well understood. However, these services depend on the willingness of DER owners – householders and businesses - to allow their assets to make these resources available to the market. 

This presentation will describe the customer engagement journey of the CONSORT Bruny Island Battery Trial. This multi-award winning project has converted 34 Bruny Island residents into mini power stations. Uniquely this project has included a dedicated social science team, based at the University of Tasmania. The social science team has acted as the ‘voice of the customer’ during the project through its detailed empirical research on Bruny Island householders’ thoughts, feelings, and actions as market participants. Our presentation will summarise the project’s learnings and in particular it will describe how they might be applied in the energy market beyond the Trial.


  • Taryn Lane



    Akin Consulting and Hepburn Wind

    Taryn has been the part-time manager of Australia's first community-owned cooperative wind farm Hepburn Wind for more than eight years, delivering...

  • Kirrily Noonan


    Principal Policy Adviser, Energy Commercial Projects & Programs

    Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

    Kirrily has extensive government experience in policy, strategy and stakeholder engagement, across the renewable energy, agriculture and resources...

  • Jen McDonnell


    Principal Stakeholder Engagement Consultant


    Jen McDonnell has been leading consultation and stakeholder engagement programs for a broad range of clients for 18 years. Jen’s background in...

  • Ellen Buswell


    Associate Stakeholder Engagement Consultant


    Ellen is a highly skilled stakeholder engagement associate with over 13 years’ experience in stakeholder and community engagement, communications,...

  • Laura Jones


    Senior Network Innovation Engineer


    Laura is an Senior Network Innovation engineer at TasNetworks. This broad-ranging job includes merging technical, customer, and commercial...

Opening Times
Wed 3 Oct Exhibition 9.00am – 5.00pm
Wed 3 Oct Networking Event 5.00pm - 6.30pm
Thur 4 Oct Exhibition 9.00am – 5.00pm

Registration opens 8.00am

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