New approaches for communities to partner with renewable energy developers, retailers, councils and network companies

  • Session Topic
    Community Energy
    Onsite Renewables

New approaches for communities to partner with renewable energy developers, retailers, councils and network companies

3 Oct 2018, 3:30 PM - 4:50 PM

Room 217
English (Australia)

Chair: Tracey Cooper, President, The Valley Centre


In what ways might microgrids and mini grids redefine the ways in which local energy is generated, stored and shared – amongst homes and businesses

Matthew Charles Jones, Mondo Power and co-chair of Totally Renewable Yackandandah

With a history of creativity and local innovation, Yackandandah has embarked on a journey to establish a mini grid – a collection of micro grids across the Yackandandah Valley.  Such minigrids represent a step change in the way in which power can be generated, used and shared locally. This technical and sociological change offers a compelling alternative to the sole reliance of legacy, carbon-intensive large-scale generation.

Noting Australia’s overwhelming solar resource, the plummeting price of solar photovoltaic generation, and the emergence of great battery technology, minigrids offer a powerful mechanism to place ownership, self-reliance, control and profit back in to communities – for residents and business. Emergent power control technologies are allowing the orchestration of electricity, which optimises energy use within a single property and amongst properties – helping to reduce the cost and size of individual assets. Moreover, a mini grid can leverage the potential of existing grid assets – and feed clean power back in to the network.

This session shall examine learning’s from Yackandandah and how these are being applied across Victoria’s north east. Most importantly, what might be the social factors that must drive the change to a safe, affordable, reliable and low-carbon energy future?


A model for indigenous ownership of renewable projects in Northwest Australia

Dr Richard Finlay-Jones, Director, Pilbara Solar

Pilbara Solar is developing a portfolio of renewable energy projects in NW WA.  Established in September 2017, Pilbara Solar seeks to maximise the opportunities for indigenous communities through project equity ownership and participation in the design, installation, operations and maintenance of new wind and solar projects.


Models that prioritise severely disadvantaged communities whilst working with retailers, developers and councils

April Crawford-Smith, Pingala Convenor, Pingala 

Pingala is innovating beyond community financed solar projects into building new models that give access to locked out customers, specifically focused on severely challenged communities. We are pioneering a Solar Gardens model where low income households buy into a large-scale solar farm in regional areas and obtain an on-bill credit on their power bill for their savings. This includes working with solar developers in large scale solar farms and working with energy retailers that are thinking outside the square. We have just launched our solar and battery bulk buy campaign that will be happening across Sydney, giving houses a chance to take part in the virtual power plant as households take up batteries, dramatically changing the energy landscape in major cities. Our partnership with local councils is strengthening, demonstrating powerful ways community energy groups and work effectively in Council partnerships. Finally we are continuing our work with Remote Aboriginal communities building new models that provide finance to disadvantaged communities in a fair and community driven way. These initiatives are building on our five years of working in the community energy space, paving the way for the energy system to be distributed and accessible, bringing along customers who would traditionally be excluded from the renewable energy transition. 


  • Tracey Cooper


    President & Key Community Facilitator

    The Valley Centre

    Tracey has run The Valley Centre for the last 25 years; action researching this process of sustainable community building with a number of other...

  • Matthew Charles Jones



    Totally Renewable Yackandandah

    Matthew is a passionate community energy leader and was a key driver in the success for one of Australia’s first commercial micro grid in...

  • Dr Richard Finlay-Jones



    Pilbara Solar

    Dr Richard Finlay-Jones is an experienced project developer, having been involved in the development, design and delivery of a variety of wind and...

  • April Crawford-Smith


    Pingala Convenor


    April has been working in the environmental campaigning and community organising sector over many years, now focusing on building self-sufficient...

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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