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Community energy ‘roadshow’

MEFL’s CEO Alison Rowe and Head of Engagement Rachel Maddocks travelled around North-East Victoria in early August to speak alongside good friends Nicky Ison from Community Power Agency, Kate Auty and local community energy groups including Renewable Albury Wodonga, Totally Sustainable Tallangatta, Totally Renewable Beechworth and Sustainable Upper Ovens.

Community Retailer

The Community Energy Forum and roadshow around North-East Victoria for the week was created by Totally Renewable Yackandandah who got everyone together to talk to locals about the proposal to set up a North-East Victoria Community Energy Retailer. Throughout the week Alison and Rachel spoke with 450 locals at community meetings in Wodonga, Wangaratta, Bright, Benalla, Beechworth and Tallangatta.

The North-East has the community energy

Alison and Rachel also helped launch Sustainable Upper Ovens, a new group planning to start up community projects to decrease their waste and energy use in Upper Ovens communities. There is loads of action in the North-East and the region holds the terrific honour of having the highest density of Community Energy Groups anywhere in Australia. We are looking forward to seeing the region develop their Community Energy Retailer model and we will of course continue to support and promote their amazing work.

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Positive Charge achievements

MEFL’s Positive Charge program had a busy and productive year in 2017-18, expanding its operations interstate and helping households and businesses to go solar and install energy efficiency measures. Amongst the highlights for the year:

  • 3.8 megawatts of solar was installed through Positive Charge across the 28 subscribing councils in Victoria and New South Wales.
  • Over 30 businesses across Vic and NSW went through the Solar for Business program, 12 of which installed 720kW of solar
  • Positive Charge is now delivering services to 10 councils in New South Wales as part of the Our Energy Future initiative by the Southern Sydney Region of Councils (SSROC). We have 2 staff members in NSW delivering the community energy service, providing information, advice and supplier pathways for local residents.
  • We’re investigating other energy efficiency products, such as hot water heat pumps and reverse cycle air conditioning to include as part of our offering, with a pilot on the way.

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Cities Power Partnership Summit

Accelerating Local Climate Action

18-19 October 2018, Kiama NSW

Registrations are now open for the inaugural Cities Power Partnership Summit. The CPP is the Climate Council’s free national local climate action support program, which is now Australia’s largest, approaching 100 member councils.

To be held in beautiful Kiama on the NSW South Coast, 2 hours south of Sydney, the summit will inspire and connect local governments and partners working on carbon emission reduction projects, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and community advocacy.

Read more »

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Staff profile

Caroline Armstrong

Program Director – Major Projects

I have recently joined MEFL as the Program Director – Major Projects. I’m leading the team responsible for the Healthy Homes and the EnergySmart projects. My background is in people and project management in the ‘for impact’ sectors.

Healthy Homes, which is funded by Sustainability Victoria, is helping low-income households where people are living with chronic health problems focus on improving the warmth of their home during winter.

Read more »

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John Thwaites joins us at Spark!

We are delighted to announce that John Thwaites has accepted our invitation to deliver an oration at Spark! 2018, in honour of the late Mike Hill. The oration will close out the first day of the conference.

About John Thwaites

John Thwaites is a Professorial Fellow, Monash University, and Chair of ClimateWorks Australia and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

Read more »

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Energy consumer survey

Every year the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) surveys energy consumers to see if small customers are having their needs met.

This years’ survey found that higher prices combined with complex and confusing energy offers have driven consumer confidence to new lows. Only one in four consumers now say energy retailers are working in their long-term interests, down 10 per cent from last year. Satisfaction with value for money in energy is lower than banking, water, broadband and mobile sectors. Trust in the energy sector has dropped from 50 per cent in 2017 to 39 per cent in 2018.

Read more »

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Staff profile: Alanna Robertson

As Executive Assistant, I’m responsible for the smooth running of the office of MEFL’s CEO, and providing high level governance and administrative support to the Board of Directors and the Executive Leadership Team.

Before starting at MEFL I was in the hospitality industry for ten years and have worked my way into management roles, most recently as Assistant Venue Manager of Howler (across from the Brunswick Baths). You can still see me rock starring out there on some weekends.

Read more »

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Spark! Conference – be an early bird

Registrations at early bird prices are now open for Spark!

The program is being developed and we have some fantastic conference streams planned. Streams will include discussions on policy and advocacy, overcoming the barriers to solar, tackling energy policy, community energy,  local leadership and the future state of the grid. We’ll be sharing more information soon, so keep watching the website, our eBulletin and Facebook.

Early Bird pricing has been extended until Wednesday 15 August.

Read more about the conference and stay in touch for updates.

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Moreland goes mega

More than one megawatt of solar power capacity has been installed in the City of Moreland through MEFL’s Positive Charge team this financial year. This is more than double the result for 2016/17, when Positive Charge installed 439 kilowatts across Moreland, and the first time this milestone has been realised in a financial year.

This milestone has been achieved by action from households, community groups, schools and businesses across Moreland.

Read more »

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The Next Boom

As well as leading the team here at MEFL, our CEO Alison Rowe chairs the Future Business Council – the new voice for business in Australia, of which MEFL is a proud member. Recently Alison and several other MEFL staff attended the launch of the Future Business Council’s updated The Next Boom report. They came back from the event excited and energised about the opportunities for Australia to lead the development of a clean, green and progressive economy.

Read more »

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Big Solar Switch

The Big Solar Switch campaign aims to be Australia’s largest switch to solar power. The campaign will unlock the massive potential of not-for-profit and community organisations by helping them to go solar.

This initiative has been developed by MEFL and Community Buying Group exclusively for Australia’s 55,000 registered charities and 600,000 community organisations. It uses the strength of aggregated purchasing to reduce the cost and barriers of installing solar PV systems.  The package includes a ‘best value’ guarantee which includes negotiated rates for the sector, extended warranties, expert advice and links to funding.

Read more »

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CO2 Performance Ladder

The COPerformance Ladder is a Dutch tool used to drive down supply chain emissions. It could generate significant emissions savings amongst suppliers – even greater than the corporate emissions of the local governments that buy from them. The CO2 Performance Ladder is in widespread use by governments in the Netherlands and has contributed to a saving of 3.2% of carbon emissions amongst participating companies.

Read more »

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Staff profile – Tyson Busch

Business Analyst

I am currently managing and carrying out the Business Improvement Project, which is made up of several initiatives that aim to reduce manual effort in our processes, provide efficiencies and prepare MEFL for future growth.

Previously I worked for 11 years at Australia Post, where I first began in HR covering roles in Learning & Development, Organisation Development, Workplace Health & Safety, Advisory and Recruitment. I then moved on to various Business Analysis and Consulting roles. I really enjoyed the variety of work; it ranged from sitting in a van driving around with a parcel delivery officer asking about their day, to filling out data sheets at 1:00am, to thinking out a deployment strategy for a new system in HQ. While working at Australia Post I completed a Bachelor of Business in HR and Info Systems and a Master of Commerce (General Business).

Read more »

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Wodonga Community Solar

Moreland Energy Foundation, with our partners the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) and Akin Consulting, have developed a feasibility and business case for of the City of Wodonga (Council) and Renewable Albury Wodonga (RAW). It investigates the potential for a two-megawatt community solar project to be developed within the municipality, with the community benefit of the project directed to low income households and community education within the Wodonga region.

Read more »

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Spark! 2018: Save the date

The Spark! 2018 conference will be held on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 September. We are also very excited to announce our platinum sponsor is  Jemena – thank you to this key partner, who will add a wealth of knowledge and experience to the event. There are a number of sponsorship spots still remaining, so do get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

Spark! is MEFL’s cornerstone event and we are delighted to be convening it again. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our inaugural conference in 2016.

Read more »

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Solar for business

Businesses across Victoria are putting solar on their roof and becoming energy efficient to help cut rising electricity costs and improve profitability, while doing their bit for the environment. Positive Charge and participating Victorian Councils can support your business through the sometimes tricky process of going solar in four key steps.

  1. Request quotes from Positive Charge’s panel of carefully vetted suppliers.
  2. Receive solar quotes showing financial savings for your business.
  3. Positive charge help you understand the quotes and finance options.
  4. You find the deal that’s right for you.

Read more »

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CEO swap

MEFL and Sustainability Victoria did a CEO swap last week. MEFL’s Alison Rowe spent a day at Sustainability Victoria, and SV’s Stan Krpan came to MEFL for the day.

Stan was soon immersed in many aspects of MEFL’s daily work, sitting in on phone calls to the Positive Charge team, discussing energy transition issues with MEFL staff and getting out on the road for visits to local organisations that are involved with Positive Charge’s solar program.

We had some great conversations, including a morning tea with staff where Stan talked about how he came to have a passion for people-centric sustainability. He also ‘pressed go’ on the email to launch our Solar for Renters Pilot with the 60 people who have expressed an interest in being involved. Stan’s tweet at the end of the day summed it up: “Very inspired by your commitment and great work and learned a lot!”

Photo: Stan Krpan (left) with MEFL’s Helen Eveleigh and Daniel Beaton.

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Staff profile – Victoria Hart

I am MEFL’s new Head of Delivery, responsible for overseeing MEFL’s suite of programs including specialist areas of community engagement, energy efficiency, sustainable energy supply, carbon neutrality, urban development, zero carbon strategies and the delivery of energy assessments and energy upgrades to those most vulnerable in our society.

With 17 years’ experience in sustainability, across both the private and public sector, I joined MEFL as I am passionate about building capacity in people and our communities, and delivering real action on the ground. I have tertiary qualifications in engineering, arts, management and energy and climate change studies.

Read more »

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Sparking new partnerships

MEFL’s biennial conference Spark! was launched in 2016. The first conference cemented MEFL as a leader in bringing together the community and industry to address the future of Australia’s energy market.

Spark! 2018 will held on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 September. Based on feedback from the first conference, the program will have two distinct streams – one centred on the community and the other industry focused.

We are seeking sponsorship partners to ensure Spark! is even better in 2018. There are a number of different ways you can become involved.

Read more »

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MEFL joins Future Business Council

MEFL has been working with businesses of all sizes and from all backgrounds for many years and we know that the business sector is well positioned to embrace Australia’s renewable energy transition. We launched our commercial solar program in 2017 (see below for a video of one of our first installations) and in 2018 we are looking to expand our work with the business sector. To that end we were thrilled to join the Future Business Council at the start of 2018.

Read more »

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Solar for renters and apartments

MEFL is working with Moreland City Council to pilot two programs to see if we can unlock solar power for renters and people in apartments.

38% of Moreland residents rent their home and 17% are in apartments, which means that solar power is much harder to install for them. We are investigating simple yet effective mechanisms to unlock solar on rental properties and apartments. We’re currently recruiting to find households to participate.

Read more »

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KeepCups

We are still selling our Moreland Zero Carbon KeepCups. The cups are sold as part of our fundraising efforts to get more solar and energy efficiency measures in local schools and community groups, as well as to fight the War on Waste.

Five dollars from the sale of each cup goes into our Moreland Renewable Energy Fund.

Read more »

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Sydney Road Street Party

On Sunday 4 March Sydney Rd Brunswick was once again a sea of people for the Sydney Road Street party. This annual event is part of the Brunswick St Music festival and sees Sydney Rd transformed from a busy road with cars, trams and bikes to a pedestrianised road with thousands of people out and about to shop, eat, drink, listen to live music and learn about local groups and initiatives.

Read more »

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An Inconvenient Sequel

On 21 February nearly 300 people turned up to a free screening of Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power at Coburg Town Hall.

The film screening was hosted by MEFL and Climate Action Moreland which was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A chaired by MEFL’s CEO Alison Rowe. An acknowledgement of country was delivered by Cr John Kavanagh, the Mayor of Moreland.

Read more »

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Healthy Homes

Moreland Energy Foundation (MEFL) is very excited to be the delivery partner for the Victorian Healthy Homes program.

The research program, which is funded by Sustainability Victoria, will help low income households where people are living with chronic health problems and focus on improving the warmth of their home during winter. The study’s research partner, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) will then measure whether the improved warmth leads to better health and wellbeing outcomes. The program will also measure whether the upgrades help to reduce energy consumption in the homes.

Read more »

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More solar for Moreland businesses

MEFL has been helping businesses across the City of Moreland save money on their energy bills by going solar. Including local business Otto and Spike who installed a 29.8kW system using Environmental Upgrade Financing. This is a new form of finance which enables local businesses to borrow money through Moreland City Council to fund environmental upgrades to their buildings. It provides businesses with access to low cost finance and enables them to spread repayments over an agreed period to ensure they are cash flow positive throughout.

Read more »

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Positive Charge out and about

The Positive Charge team will be out and about over the next few weeks, delivering information sessions, a movie screening, an author talk and more. See below for details.

  • Thursday 15 Feb. Energy Efficiency, Coburg Library. Come along to learn some simple ways to save. Register here
  • Wednesday 21 Feb. Free Movie Screening: An Inconvenient Sequel. We’ll be showing Al Gore’s latest film about Climate Change, followed by a panel discussion. Register here

Read more »

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Staff profile: Dez Daswani

I joined MEFL in January as the Project Coordinator for Healthy Homes. My main responsibility is to coordinate the home energy efficiency upgrades with delivery partners in selected households, within the Western Melbourne and Greater Shepparton regions.

I previously worked in the telecommunications sector, coordinating asset replacement projects of HVAC, fire and battery equipment in Telstra’s network sites. I  also have experience in customer service, data analysis and reporting. I volunteered and took a number of environmental sustainability courses at CERES prior to joining MEFL.

When I’m not working I…  go rock climbing and I have a keen interest in growing food in my backyard.

The best piece of sustainability advice I ever got is… to live a simple and minimalistic life.

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From the CEO

As we approach the end of the year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the amazing achievements in 2017. The list is long! Highlights include:

  • Expanding our organisation to NSW through Our Energy Future.
  • Commencing the EnergySmart program and another soon-to-be launched retrofit program for low-income households.  These programs will see us improve the comfort and efficiency of 2,500 homes across Victoria.
  • In partnership with Moreland City Council we are updating the Zero Carbon Evolution strategy for 2020 and designing the longer-term strategy for 2040.
  • Moreland saw its first EUA (environmental upgrade agreement) at Otto and Spike.
  • And our first Your Community Energy Project in partnership with Powershop at Milparinka was delivered.

Read more »

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Cooling Communities outcomes

MEFL launched the findings from our Cooling Communities project last month. This project saw MEFL and Moreland City Council retrofit ten social housing properties in Moreland to improve understanding of the actions required to mitigate impacts of the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE). The project was funded through DELWP’s Victorian Climate Change Grants 2015.

Upgrades

Upgrade works included improvements to building fabric (insulation, draught proofing and external shading), natural cooling from trees and vegetation, and mechanical upgrades (fans and reverse-cycle air-conditioners).

Read more »

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Power Changer

Electricity distributor Jemena is piloting a demand management program called Power Changer in Melbourne’s inner and northern suburbs. The program was launched in early December at Alphington Primary School.

MEFL is supporting Jemena by recruiting households to take part in this exciting trial. If successful the program will:

  • Reduce the strain on our electricity grid during peak weather events
  • Save households money on their bills
  • Raise money for local organisations like Fairfield Primary School, Alphington Primary School, Darebin Parklands and more.

Read more »

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Screening: An Inconvenient Sequel

As part of the 2018 Sustainable Living Festival, MEFL and Climate Action Moreland will be screening Al Gore’s  An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

In this follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth, cameras follow the former US Vice President, as he continues his tireless mission to train activists and influence international climate policy around the world. This movie is a must-see for the unaware and inspiring viewing for those already striving to see global action on climate change.

Details

Date: Weds 21 February, 7pm

Venue: Coburg Town Hall, 90 Bell St Coburg

Tickets are free.

Read more »

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Staff profile: Philipp Koetting

Information Analyst

Philipp works in the Consulting team at MEFL where he is responsible for the coordination of organisational data and reporting processes.

Philipp has recently relocated from Laos and joined MEFL in October, bringing with him experience from across Asia and Europe. Prior to MEFL, he worked for an international consulting firm focusing on the assessment of green growth potential in developing countries and their transition to low carbon and sustainable economies. Prior, he worked for a non-government organization on a variety of projects which included improved solar energy, biogas, household air pollution, REDD+ measures and pico-hydro systems.

Read more »

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How much should you be paying?

How much should you be paying for electricity? It’s a question we get asked a bit and the answer isn’t as complicated as you might think. At the time of writing (and some things do change quickly) a good deal is around 90 cents for supply and under 20 cents for usage. We’ll explain supply and usage a bit later. This is a straight price, not a ‘pay-on-time’ discounted price. We have seen this price up to $1.40 for supply and up to 47 cents for usage (often with a small discount applied).

Read more »

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Pathways to Zero Carbon

MEFL is working with Moreland City Council on achieving its goal of zero carbon emissions in the municipality by 2040. Achieving such an ambitious target requires collaborative action across many sectors, including all levels of government, transport, waste and stationary energy. On 17 November we gathered over 60 representatives across these sectors for an intensive 3-hour workshop titled ‘Pathways to Zero Carbon’.

Read more »

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Annual General Meeting

On Tuesday 24 October we gathered at St Ambrose Community Centre in Brunswick for our Annual General Meeting. Members, friends, Board and staff members mingled in the courtyard and enjoyed tacos from the Taco Truck and a drink to celebrate our achievements over the last year.

MEFL’s Chair Monique Conheady and CEO Alison Rowe reported on MEFL’s achievements in 2016-17, the big changes we’ve been through in that time and how what we’re doing fits in with broader changes in the energy ‘landscape’.

Read more »

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Scorecard rolling out to more Victorians

The Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard is a unique program that provides an energy star rating for your home. In the same way as a fridge or washing machine has a star rating, a Scorecard rating shows how much energy is used by different parts of your home. The star rating provides an easy-to-understand snapshot of how your home copes with Victoria’s hot and cold weather. This allows you to compare your home’s energy use with similar homes and quickly see how to save money on your bills.

From April 2018 there will be a major expansion in the availability of Scorecard assessments. Currently, Scorecard assessments are offered through not-for-profit organisations and local councils. From April next year, commercial businesses will also be able to offer Scorecard assessments.

Assessors wanted

To prepare for this roll-out, the Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)  are encouraging household sustainability assessors across the state to apply for Scorecard accreditation.

Read more »

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Alison Rowe at All-Energy Australia

Alison Rowe, MEFL’s CEO has been invited to speak on the opening Plenary Panel at the
All-Energy Australia 2017 conference this Wednesday.

Alison will be speaking alongside an ensemble of high calibre speakers, in a panel session facilitated by Rachel Watson, Chair of the Clean Energy Council. The panel will discuss “The next market disruption”, looking at the evolving energy landscape, its future players and the  new market realities for the energy sector.

Read more »

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Good advice in four languages

MEFL has just produced a new energy efficiency booklet with tips on simple, effective ways to save energy whilst caring for your health and comfort.

The booklet has easy actions to reduce your bills, tips for all seasons and a summer and winter checklist.

The booklet is available in Arabic, English, Greek and Italian and can be downloaded from the Moreland Zero Carbon website or picked up from council service centres and libraries across Moreland. MEFL has been working with Moreland City Council to distribute the brochures to their Home and Community Care clients as part of a wider program to support their clients in accessing information on reducing bills whilst keeping safe in summer and winter.

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Otto and Spike go solar

Moreland’s first Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) was signed on 29 August. This has enabled local family-run business Otto and Spike to install a 30kW solar system. The 111 panels spell out the business name on their Brunswick East roof.

How it works

Environmental Upgrade Financing enables local businesses to save money and improve their environmental performance. A finance lender provides a loan for measures to reduce the building’s environmental impact and the building owner pays it back through Council (via their Council rates). Council’s involvement in this process ensures that the loan is highly secure and the lender will provide better terms. The program is managed by Sustainable Melbourne Fund. Moreland Council is one of 14 councils across Victoria currently offering Environmental Upgrade Financing.

Read more »

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Community energy

MEFL’s Renewables Broker, Manny Pasqualini gave a presentation recently to students in RMIT’s Master of Engineering (Sustainable Energy) course.

Manny’s presentation focused on community energy, defined as “projects where a community group initiates, develops, operates and benefits from a renewable energy resource or energy efficiency initiative”. Manny outlined the various overlapping benefits of community energy; not only do such projects have environmental benefits, but because they are locally initiated and controlled they have strong social, political and economic benefits as well. For example, community energy projects can create local jobs and income. They can also build social capital by enabling  local decision-making, engagement and empowerment.

Read more »

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Charge stays Positive

Positive Charge has had another successful year, having assisted in the installation of 2,031kW of solar installed on households throughout Victoria and NSW. This reduces CO2 emissions by 56,364 tonnes, which is the equivalent of 1,460,738 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Positive Charge also assisted 1,405 householders by offering tailored advice through energy assessments and phone advice, and spoke to more than 2,000 people at events all over Victoria.

Read more »

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Sustainability in Europe

While MEFL’s CEO Alison Rowe was travelling in Europe recently, she noticed sustainability initiatives in many places:

  • Roadside electric car charging in Paris
  • An electric car share network in Modena
  • Electric bikes for hire in Madrid
  • A powerful sculpture in Venice, apparently holding up an historic building to protect it from rising water. The sculpture symbolises the threat that climate change has on history, but also the power we have to stop it.

Here are Alison’s snapshots (click on images to see a larger version).

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Staff profile – Anna Moltchanski

Anna is the program support officer at Our Energy Future, the NSW arm of Positive Charge. In this role, she works closely with the Rob Kyle, the Program Lead to help local households save energy and money.

Anna came to MEFL from Suez Recycling and Recovery where she worked as a Contaminations Officer, working closely with Penrith Council in delivering an organics contamination management program. Prior to this, she worked as an English teacher in Argentina and as an associate in a financial services company based in Dublin.

Read more »

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MEFL thrives

This has been a year of massive changes for MEFL. We’ve taken on a raft of new projects, expanded our staff to cope with the increased workload, and transformed our office to fit everyone in! So in late July we took a couple of days out to get the whole team together, review our progress and clarify our vision for the future. The event was called “Thrive”.

Read more »

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Homes and heatwaves

MEFL’s Senior Consultant Jon Morgan presented at the Ecocity World Summit 2017 recently on the topic of “Australian Houses and Heatwaves”.

Jon’s presentation focused on the increasing severity of heatwaves in Australia, the health impacts of heatwaves and how buildings can be designed to mitigate the impacts.

Read more »

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VCOSS power report

The Victorian Council of Social Service has released a major report called Power Struggles: Everyday battles to stay connected.

The report highlights we must remember that real people are at the centre of our nation’s energy price crisis. It is based on face-to-face interviews with ten people experiencing ‘energy poverty’, and details the heartbreaking sacrifices Australians on low-incomes are making to stay connected to the electricity grid.

Read more »

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Team profile: EnergySmart

MEFL’s newest and largest project EnergySmart is in full swing. This research program will examine 1,500 homes and look into effective ways of reducing energy bills. It will also improve comfort levels for public housing tenants. The project is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Eligible tenants are identified by DHHS, then one of the EnergySmart team visits the home and helps identify the most appropriate upgrade for the property. The upgrades focus on:

  • Reverse cycle heating and cooling
  • Heat pump hot water system upgrades
  • Thermal shell upgrades (primarily insulation and draught proofing).

Read more »

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Our Energy Future launch

Residents of ten council regions in southern Sydney are now set to receive free energy help and advice from the Positive Charge experts. The Sydney program, known as Our Energy Future, is a collaboration between Positive Charge and SSROC (Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils).

Launch

Our Energy Future was launched in Sydney last month and was a great success – there was a buzz of excitement in the air about the new program. The evening was hosted by the fantastic Ben Peacock, founder of The Republic of Everyone and there were great speeches from MEFL’s own Alison Rowe, SSROCs General Manager Namoi Dougall and the ever-inspiring Professor Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council.

Read more »

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Sustainable Moreland Community Ideas Exchange

There are lots of active community groups in the City of Moreland, and they have lots of good ideas to share around. That’s what we found out when Moreland Zero Carbon Evolution held its annual Community Ideas Exchange in early July.

The Exchange was attended by representatives from 20 local groups, covering issues from cycling to food gardens, urban forests, community solar, recycling, local microgrids, climate change activism, social justice and childcare. A full list of the groups represented is below.

Discussion centred on 5 main topics that were identified as priorities:

Read more »

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Staff profile – Sarah Marcius

EnergySmart Coordinator

I am coordinating the newly developed EnergySmart research project at MEFL, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services. The project researches ways to reduce energy bills and improve tenant comfort by installing energy efficient appliances and completing building upgrades in Victoria Public Housing facilities. The project involves upgrading 1,500 low rise public housing facilities by making one of three changes:

Read more »

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EnergySmart Research Program

Moreland Energy Foundation is proud to be working with the Department of Health & Human Services on the EnergySmart Public Housing Research Program.

The program will replace inefficient electric water heaters, electric heaters and deliver tailored thermal upgrades to 1,500 public housing properties from July 2017. There is a significant focus on delivering these upgrades to regional Victoria.

Read more »

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MEFL’s CEO on Radio National

Our CEO Alison Rowe appeared on Radio National’s Sunday Extra last weekend. Along with two other guests, Alison spoke about the Finkel Review of the National Energy Market.

Topics

The conversation covered many aspects of the Finkel Review, including:

  • What the Review was actually set up to do
  • The three critical elements that need to be balanced: security and reliability of the grid, lower emissions and rewarding customers.
  • Ensuring an orderly and fair transition to sustainable energy
  • The role of gas in the energy mix
  • Supporting low-income households

The conversation also ranged over the recommended Clean Energy Target, certainty for energy investors and international energy issues.

Listen

You can listen to the program on the ABC website.

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6 Star and beyond

The energy efficiency standards for residential buildings across Australia were raised significantly in 2011. In Victoria, the standard was raised from 5 to 6 stars. This was a major step forward, and posed many questions, including:

  • What are the cost impacts of the regulatory change?
  • How has the building industry responded?
  • How effective are the codes and standards for residential buildings?
  • To what extent have architects and builders improved on the regulatory minimum?

Read more »

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Our Energy Future in NSW

Positive Charge is now working with eight councils in NSW under the banner ‘Our Energy Future’.

Our Energy Future is a key element of the Southern Sydney Region Organisation of Councils‘ (SSROC) Renewable Energy Master Plan. It will be run by Positive Charge for a 15-month pilot period.

The program has been implemented thanks to a collaboration by SSROC and will be delivered by the Our Energy Future team, coordinated by Positive Charge.

Read more »

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CEO Sleepout

MEFL’s CEO, Alison Rowe will be sleeping outside on 22 June as part of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. Along with thousands of other CEOs around Australia, Alison will be experiencing for one night what over 105,000 people experience every night – sleeping in the winter cold without a roof over her head.

Read more »

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Staff Profile – Greg Potter

Program Support – Positive Charge

My role is to support the Positive Charge program by handling inbound queries, looking after aspects of our social media presence, assisting project leads and other staff with a range of tasks, and generally contributing to the running of the office.  My professional background includes 20 years in a range of customer service and technical support roles.

I’ve long been an advocate for solar energy and combating the effects of anthropogenic climate change in my personal circles – I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to do so on behalf of Positive Charge / MEFL.

Read more »

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Energy Efficiency Scorecard

MEFL’s social enterprise Positive Charge is assisting the Victorian State Government in rolling out a Residential Energy Efficiency Scorecard (RES). The Scorecard is an Australian-first home energy rating program, which will give a star rating for homes, in the same way as a fridge or washing machine has an energy star rating.

Purpose of the Scorecard

The Residential Efficiency Scorecard has been developed by the Victorian Government to help Victorians better understand the energy performance of their homes and to make informed choices about improving the quality of their living environment, while saving money on their gas and electricity bills.

Read more »

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UNAA awards

Moreland City Council and MEFL are finalists in the United Nations Association Australia’s World Environment Day Climate Action Awards, for their joint project to enable community tenants to access solar.

The project

This ground-breaking program was piloted in 2015/16. It established a revolving fund, which enables community groups who lease buildings from council to install solar with no upfront costs. They start saving money from day one. It was developed to help community groups reduce their running costs so they have more money to spend on what really matters. Enabling these groups to generate solar energy will also help to deliver Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution strategy, which has an ambitious goal of reducing the municipality’s community carbon emissions by 22% by 2020.

Read more »

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Greenhouse Alliances Conference

Our readers will probably know of the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA) but there are other greenhouse alliances all over Victoria – in fact 70 of the state’s 79 local councils are involved. The Alliances work across their networks, communities and partners to deliver regional mitigation and adaptation programs.

Links with Germany

The 2017 Victorian Greenhouse Alliances Conference has heard about what Australian local governments can learn from the experience of their German counterparts in encouraging a shift to a renewable energy-based economy. Dr Anne Kallies from RMIT explained that while German local governments had some advantages over Australian councils (such as being recognised in the constitution and having access to power supply contracts), they also faced many of the same problems.

Read more »

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Staff Profile

Rob Kyle

Program Lead – Our Energy Future

I am coordinating the delivery of the Our Energy Future program in NSW on behalf of the Southern Sydney Region of Councils (SSROC). The program follows the already established service delivery model of Positive Charge and will work with local councils to engage their community in action on climate change. Our Energy Future offers a free, energy advice service to help people reduce their power bills without compromising on comfort. Our Energy Future can also link people to carefully selected suppliers to get quotes on solar and more.

Before joining Positive Charge, I worked as a Business Development and Projects Manager for a boutique solar company in Sydney. I have, over the past year, developed a good understanding of solar, renewable energy and the Australian energy market. I am also an experienced program coordinator from my time at engineering consultancy AECOM, where I managed the delivery of a government-funded neighbourhood planning program.

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Community Energy Congress

The C4CE Community Energy Congress on 27-28 February was a busy and highly successful event.

Some highlights were:

  • Keynotes from two of the world’s most respected voices in community energy: Soren Hermansen and Candace Vahlsing
  • A reiteration of leadership support for a renewable transition from Vic Energy & Climate Change Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio
  • The Energy Justice session, hosted by a group of Indigenous Australians and First Nation Canadians
  • Breakout sessions including Working with RE Developers, Financing, Legals and Risk, Grabbing Headlines, Empowering Vulnerable Communities and Political Support.

Read more »

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Helping Moreland businesses go solar

We’re seeing more and more businesses make the smart choice to go solar. With many businesses experiencing major hikes in their energy costs over recent months it is becoming a clear way for businesses to increase their profits. With low interest, council backed loans (called ‘Environmental Upgrade Agreements’) now available in Moreland it’s also possible for owner occupiers – and tenants to access solar with no upfront costs.

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We pony up for good

Like so many people, MEFL staff had a stack of old technology at home cluttering up the drawers and wardrobes of our houses. We decided to do something about it. MEFL contacted PonyUp for Good to get a little help and do a little good. We bought all our old tech into the office and Pony Up came to pick it up.

How PonyUp works

PonyUp for Good is a social enterprise. They take your donated, smartphones, laptops and tablets, securely erase any data on them, then on-sell for reuse. The devices feel good about themselves as they’re reused for up to another seven years, providing affordable, working technology to folk in developing countries, while keeping toxic chemicals out of soil & waterways. The major kicker is: 50% of profits are donated to SecondBite, Australia’s fresh food crusaders, who last year, rescued 10 million kilograms of fresh food and redistributed it to over 1300 food programs nationally. That’s 55,000 healthy meals a day. 

Read more »

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New Positive Charge website

MEFL’s social enterprise Positive Charge has evolved in the four years since it was launched. Last year we found the need to update our website and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to keep up with the changes. The Positive Charge team has been working hard behind the scenes to create the new website and CRM.

It’s been a long process with a lot of consultation to try to get things right. The new website should be easier to navigate to find all the tips, hints and new articles relevant to you. It will also link up with the CRM in order to streamline some of our processes. The website and CRM will assist people wishing to request a quote from a carefully selected supplier, or book a service (such as an energy assessment) through Positive Charge. It also provides an easy way for people to stay in touch by subscribing to the Positive Charge eNews.

The Positive Charge team is very keen to make sure that the new website is intuitive, informative and relevant – we are keen to hear your feedback. Have a look at the new website and send us an email with any feedback, comments or suggestions.

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Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The Victorian Government’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan was released last month. The Plan lays out the expected risks from climate change and the government’s principles and priorities for adaptation. You can download the full plan from the DELWP website but if you’re not ready to read all 81 pages, check out this short video made by NAGA’s Executive Officer David Meiklejohn. David explains the sectoral approach taken in the Adaptation Plan, with a focus on local government issues.

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MEFL at Sydney Rd Street Party

MEFL set up a Zero Carbon Evolution street stall on Sunday 5 March at the Sydney Road Street Party.

We spoke to lots of people, hearing your suggestions and providing lots of advice. Thanks to everyone who came and chatted to us. We heard about the actions being taken by people across the community – a big thank you for your efforts!

We shared the stall with Moreland Community Solar, so people got to find out what community solar is all about and what’s happening in Moreland.

As usual Sunny the Solar Bear was the star of the show, getting the crowd dancing and bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

People told us that the actions they had most commonly taken were:

  • Saving energy
  • Travelling smarter
  • Switching lights to LED
  • Saving water.

The actions people were most eager to take were:

  • Go solar
  • Find new ways to save energy.

People were also interested in how they could use their power through divestment and in making Moreland greener. For more info on the sustainability actions you can take, visit the Moreland Zero Carbon Actions page.

 

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A long, long ride

Jill and Elly having a well-earned rest at Tallangatta

Many of us at MEFL ride bikes to work, but our Project Support Officer Elly Pattison outdid us all recently by pedalling from Melbourne to Canberra in the zoo2zoo ride. That’s 840km in six days, with some big hills along the way! Even better, Elly’s mum Jill rode with her.

Thirteen riders completed the Melbourne-Canberra ride, and 34 rode the second leg from Canberra to Dubbo. Altogether both groups raised almost $50,000 for the Black Dog Institute.

You can still make a general donation to the zoo2zoo ride, or support Elly and Jill’s personal fundraising effort.

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The race to 100 per cent renewable town is on

MEFL’s Renewables Broker Manny Pasqualini is a busy man; he’s also Director of Victorian Projects and Capacity Building at Community Power Agency.

Manny recently had an article published in the Border Mail (based in Albury-Wodonga), titled “The race to 100 per cent renewable town is on”.

The article begins:

Communities around the world are leading the way in the transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewables. Suburbs, small towns and, increasingly, entire cities are driving the change to an exciting future for 100 per cent renewable energy.

Towns like Newstead, Uralla, Lismore, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour and countless others across the country are developing and implementing 100 per  cent renewable policies…

Read the full article on the Border Mail website.

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Community groups go solar

MEFL has formed a partnership with Powershop to help Moreland’s community groups reduce their outgoings and carbon emissions by installing solar.  MEFL is channelling funds raised through Powershop’s Your Community Energy initiative to local projects. Under this initiative Powershop customers pay a few cents extra per unit of power and this money is used to fund solar for not-for-profit or charitable organisations.

Read more »

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MEFL at Sydney Road Street Party

Drop by for a chat and play a card game with us at the Sydney Road Street Party! We’d love to hear from you on the actions you’re taking to reduce your emissions, or want to take but feel it’s too difficult.

We’ll have information on hand to do with solar, draught-proofing, insulation, switching to LED lighting, heat pumps, and can talk with you about how you can invest in a Community Renewable Energy project.

Plus we want to gather suggestions from the community on what we need to be doing to help Moreland’s transition to zero carbon.

Our stand will be located at 234 Sydney Road directly opposite the Brunswick Town Hall.

Weather permitting, Sunny the Solar Bear may also put in an appearance!

The Sydney Road Street Party is on Sunday 5 March, 11am-3pm

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Renewable Energy Advocate

Victoria now has a Renewable Energy Advocate. Simon Corbell was appointed to the position late last year.

Mr Corbell was previously Minister for the Environment and Climate Change in the ACT. Among other achievements, he was responsible for the delivery of large scale solar and wind farms. He also brought in the ACT government’s target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020.

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Staff profile

Kate Nicolazzo

Manager, Positive Charge

As Manager, I look after the team. I make sure we are all focused on the right things, have the right skills and knowledge and we maintain our passion to achieve our very big vision for helping  communities to transition a zero carbon future. I am also in charge of developing new business opportunities and partnerships and at the moment we are focused on expanding to New South Wales!

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6 star NABERS rating for MEFL office

nabers-certificateWe’re delighted to announce that the MEFL office has been given a 6 star NABERS tenancy rating. This is the top rating and according to NABERS, “demonstrates market-leading performance”.

The rating recognises our energy-efficient practices such as:

  • Turning off computers when not in use
  • Automatic switches for lights so they’re not left on
  • Our purchase of 100% GreenPower.

More information about NABERS tenancy ratings on the NABERS website.

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From the CEO

Alison RoweThe end of each year is the perfect time to sit back, take stock of the year that has passed by and look at the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead. This is particularly relevant for me as I have spent the past months looking back at the amazing work MEFL has done and the outstanding achievements of this small organisation. Our success is a testament to the people who come together each day to make MEFL what it is. Next year we will be even better.

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Carbon Neutral Christmas

goatSanta manages to deliver presents all over the world and his only carbon footprint is a little bit of reindeer flatulence. However in most homes Christmas creates a lot more waste and landfill than any other time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
MEFL’s Program Co-ordinator Jason Cox has put together a few tips for a Christmas that has maximum happiness and minimum waste.

Shop locally

If you live in Moreland you have everything you need at your fingertips from food to presents. You’ll reduce your travel and your stress levels. See the Moreland City Council website for info on local shopping areas.

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Regional Councils go solar

shepMEFL is currently undertaking a solar feasibility project for the Shire of Moira and the City of Greater Shepparton as part of both Councils’ ambitions to dramatically enhance their renewable energy programs.

The two Councils have recognised a need to:

  • Deliver reductions in the cost of running their facilities in the short to medium term
  • Enhance their leadership position in the community.

Read more »

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Making it easy for businesses to go green

pv-commercial

As part of our work to help Moreland get on track for zero carbon emissions by 2025 MEFL’s Zero Carbon Evolution team have been working with Moreland City Council to make it possible for businesses (both building owners and tenants) to install solar at no upfront cost.

In September Moreland City Council approved a key tool – Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs). These are a council-based funding mechanism that has been developed to enable businesses to borrow money at lower interest rates for upgrades that improve the environmental performance of the building.

Read more »

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Parliamentary Inquiry: Community Energy Projects

hepburn-windMEFL welcomed the opportunity to appear before the Inquiry into Community Energy Projects, undertaken in November by the Parliament of Victoria’s Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills Committee. This is an important area of consideration for the Committee, as community renewable energy has significant potential to drive local and regional economic development and renewable energy generation in Victoria.

At the hearing MEFL’s Gavin Ashley and Manny Pasqualini addressed the potential role of community energy in the energy sector; the benefits of community owned energy programs; and the best ways to support community energy projects, in the context of existing regulatory and other challenges.  MEFL specifically called for the Victorian Government to establish a community energy target and policy mechanism to help achieve it, and funding for support services such as those that MEFL provides to community groups.

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Community Energy Congress

cty-energy-congressThe Community Energy Congress, organised by the Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE), is the premier event in Australia’s community energy calendar. It is driven by the desire for people to work together to develop and deliver sustainable, locally owned energy projects.

Congress 2017 will bring together up to 800 people, from the experts who pioneered the sector, to those who are just starting their foray into the community energy space, sharing information, developing skills, fostering new networks, celebrating success and planning for action.

Read more »

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International student project

wpi-350

Meet our team of international students! They are from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, USA, and are working with us on a research project into the all-electric home.  They have completed background research about several aspects of making the transition, collected homeowner input, and created materials to help Positive Charge assist homeowners in taking action and making the transition.  There is more information about the project on the Posivite Charge website.

Read more »

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Holding on to power

batteryIn past issues we have looked at various battery storage technologies. Recently we have received some questions about the broader topic of battery storage as it affects householders. In this article, we explore the concept of battery storage and the key considerations householders and businesses need to make when deciding on its suitability and type.

Currently, many Australian households pay 20-30 cents per kWh (note: kWh is a unit of energy) of electricity, and receive 5-7 cents per kWh, both depending on their retailer. Some early adopters of solar systems may still be receiving the ‘premium’ 60 cents per kWh Feed in Tariff rate for excess renewable energy exported to the grid.

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Introducing… Michael Iudica

michael-iudicaAs Director of Finance I supervise the reporting of accurate financial information for MEFL management and Board, ensuring that MEFL is financially viable and able to deliver our core activities.

I also assist all business units to achieve their specific financial goals, and ensure that incoming and outgoing payments are correct and timely.

I am a FCPA qualified accountant with extensive business experience having previously worked in the membership and legal industry as well as in the fashion industry.

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Positive Charge – Banksia Awards finalist

We were delighted that Positive Charge was selected as a Finalist for the 2016 Banksia Awards in the Sustainable and Resilient Communities category.

The winners were announced on 30 November and we congratulate the winner; Manymak Energy Efficiency Project.

Manymak was an energy efficiency project that ran for 2 years in six communities in East Arnhem Land.

Positive Charge

banksia-awardsPositive Charge is the only organisation of its kind offering trustworthy advice, coupled with the confidence to connect people with carefully selected suppliers and installers of energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services. We only work with suppliers after conducting a thorough procurement process, so that we can be confident that we are offering high quality products and services, at a great price from a company we can trust.

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Time for coffee?

Many cafes leave their coffee machines on overnight so they are ready to go first thing in the morning.  This means they’re able to deliver that vital burst of early morning energy to customers, but it also wastes lots of electricity.

We thought there must be a smarter way to morning coffee so (with support from Moreland City Council) we undertook a trial to explore the potential energy and cost savings of coffee machine timers. We installed timers to six coffee machines along Lygon Street.

The process was simple and quick. Our qualified electrician installed most timers in 15 minutes. Cafe staff were shown how to adjust the timer and after that, it was back to business as usual.

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TAKE2

take2“An active, inspired community tackling climate change with sustainable energy solutions.” That’s MEFL’s vision. We aim to lead the climate change and energy agenda in Moreland and beyond, by working with our community, partners and stakeholders to achieve it. Just recently, we took another step in this direction. MEFL has joined with more than 180 other Victorian organisations, companies and local governments to become a founding member of TAKE2.

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Cooling Communities

Living in urban areas, we are often surrounded by dark-coloured, hard surfaces, lots of thermal mass in the form of buildings, and little in the way of vegetation or bodies of water that might provide shade and evaporative cooling. These factors work together to create the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE), and it means hot days are often hotter for longer in cities. As a way to tackle the issue of UHIE, MEFL in a partnership with Moreland City Council has created a new project named Cooling Communities. This project is funded through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and will work in areas of social housing in Moreland.

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Council-led Energy Innovation Project

Centroc is a voluntary regional collaboration of 15 councils in central NSW. It facilitates co-operation and advocacy on behalf of its member councils. It’s a long way from Brunswick, but when the Centroc councils decided they wanted to boost renewable energy in their region, they came to MEFL for advice.

MEFL has been working with the CENTROC group of councils to develop a process to scope renewable energy projects. We assisted in the preliminary development of a proposal for a local renewable energy project with potential funding partners.

The project was founded on MEFL’s strong understanding of renewable energy opportunities, the energy market, current and future technology impacts, governance arrangements, council funding processes and knowledge of the ancillary social and economic benefits that can be derived from locally based renewable energy projects.

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From little things…

dollhouse-renovationsA Moreland house has been getting an eco-makeover in the MEFL office. It’s not quite the usual house, as this one is only 40cm high!  The teeny tiny eco-house will be used as a ‘demonstration home’ on tour around the Moreland community with the Zero Carbon Evolution team. It showcases many of the actions households can take to reduce their energy use, save money and make their homes more comfortable – especially from extreme weather.

The project was born when one of our staff offered an unused doll’s house. Through the work of three volunteers and a bit of creative license, we’ve been renovating the house to include features from carpet, curtains, shading and door snakes to solar panels, LED lights and insulation. There’s even easy to apply double glazing, a green roof and an electric car! Keep a look out for it at festivals and events across Moreland this spring and summer!

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Staff changes at MEFL

mariela
Mariela Mendoza

There are some new faces around the MEFL office. Rachel Maddocks has joined us recently as Director of Engagement (see below for a detailed profile). Kate Nicolazzo has been in the office for a few months and has now moved into a new role as manager of Positive Charge, replacing Chandra Sundareswaran who is moving away from Melbourne. And we have Mariela Mendoza (pictured) in a temporary role as co-ordinator of the Cooling Communities project (as mentioned above). Regular readers may remember Manny Pasqualini who was an intern at MEFL a few years ago. We’re delighted to announce that Manny is back, this time as our Renewables Broker. We’ll keep you informed of what our new staff are up to in future issues.

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Introducing Rachel Maddocks

rachelI am just starting week 4 of my adventure at MEFL – as the Director of Engagement I am excited to build on the already amazing reputation and legacy of MEFL, to make sure all our work together is shouted from the solar rooftops.

Essentially my role is to tell the stories that come from the wide ranging work MEFL does with our partners, clients and the community. To be able to contribute to expanding the conversation around renewable energy and be a part of the changing landscape of our energy sector is personally very fulfilling and allows me to truly align my work life with my personal values.

Read more »

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A healthier and more energy-efficient housing stock

heatwaveWe know that improving the standard of our housing is required to meet the demands of a tougher climate. MEFL has been very active in this space recently. We’ve taken on key roles in a suite of projects which are attempting to aggregate the benefits of improvement to our housing stock to improve the business case for investment. And of course we hosted a workshop at the Spark conference on just this topic. The increased focus on improving comfort and health outcomes (such as reduced hospital admissions from less exposure to weather extremes) further builds a compelling case for action especially when aggregated with the energy savings to the households and the greenhouse gas emission savings (traditional MEFL core business). Our recent work has included:

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Alison Rowe – MEFL’s new CEO

Alison-and-Pugs-280It’s been a busy first month for me as the new CEO of MEFL!

I’ve taken the opportunity to learn about all of MEFL’s wonderful work (undertaken with Paul Murfitt’s guidance) and to find my ‘sea legs’ as the newest member of the MEFL team.

MEFL is a team which includes not just the MEFL staff, but you as well. Here at MEFL we have delivered honest advice, and innovative energy solutions which truly addresses the community’s needs because you help us identify those needs.

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Farewell to MEFL from Paul Murfitt

paulmMy time at MEFL has been nothing less than fantastic; book-ended by the challenge of the Solar Cities program back in 2008 and then the ‘Spark!’ conference held in Moreland just last week. During my tenure as CEO I have had the privilege of leading a remarkable range of staff – so many leaders in their own right – to deliver challenging projects that have improved our community’s sustainability.  I can think of so many examples where our work, with our partners and the community, has challenged the status quo and created more sustainable social and economic models that face up to the urgent challenge of climate change.

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Creating a Climate for Change

lucy-climate-for-changeOne of the great things about the Moreland Energy Foundation is that our staff are not only passionate about sustainability but are also a talented bunch! Two MEFL staffers were involved in a fantastic event at Northcote Town Hall on 11th August, put on by Darebin Climate Action Now and Melbourne Playback Theatre, entitled Creating a Climate for Change.

For the uninitiated, Playback Theatre is a type of improvisational theatre that uses stories from the audience or group and then interprets and enacts them on the spot. Melbourne Playback is one of the oldest Playback theatre groups in the world, having been in operation for over 30 years. Creating a Climate for Change was the fourth Melbourne Playback event to feature a Q&A panel to inspire discussion and stories on a particular topic. This event was sold out and had over 250 people in attendance.

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Holding onto power

Over recent months we’ve looked at various small-scale battery systems that are suitable for domestic use. This time we’re going large-scale and looking at Concentrated Solar Thermal power (CST) – a method of generating electricity that also enables solar energy to be stored in the form of heat. You’re not likely to have one of these systems on your roof any time soon, but CST has huge potential for large-scale generation and storage.

How it works

CSIRO_solar-thermal-newcastle A CST power station typically consists of an array of sun tracking mirrors (‘heliostats’) that concentrate sunlight by focusing it onto a target at the top of a tower. Some towers heat water directly to create steam to drive turbines, while others heat molten salt. Molten salt towers work by pumping ‘cold’ salt (about 280°C) up to the top of the tower where it is heated, and then it is pumped back down the tower for storage or immediate use. The advantage of molten salt is that the energy from the heat can be stored and used at a later time, or released immediately into a heat exchanger that produces steam to power a standard steam turbine. The molten salt has a 30+ year life span and can be repurposed as a high grade fertiliser.

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Want to win $1500 for your local sustainability project in Moreland?

MEFL is seeking applications from Moreland community groups, schools, early learning centres or other organisations that are leading projects that contribute maximum outcomes towards Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution goals. Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution strategy sets out our community’s ambitious goal to reduce emissions by 22% across the Moreland community by 2020. Each project must demonstrate how it will positively contribute to one or more of the ZCE goals. The winning project will receive a $1,500 prize to go towards the project. Applications must be emailed to helen@mefl.com.au by 9am on Monday 15th August.

The winner will be announced at the ZCE partner event on Thursday 18th August as part of MEFL’s inaugural Spark conference.

For more information, download the Zero Carbon Evolution Community Prize flyer.

 

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Sign up for a free home energy efficiency score AND the chance to win energy efficiency measures up to $1,500 for your home

Would you like to know more about the energy efficiency of your home, and how you could improve it?

Positive Charge is looking for households to take part in a home energy efficiency trial during August and early September.

On behalf of the Moreland energy Foundation Ltd (MEFL) Positive Charge is conducting a second round of trial testing of the Residential Efficiency Scorecard.

The Residential Efficiency Scorecard system is being developed by the Victorian Government to help Victorians better understand the energy performance of their homes, make informed choices about improving the quality of their living environment, while saving money on their gas and electricity bills.

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Vale Mike Hill

With deep sadness we note that Mike Hill passed away on 26 July 2016.

Mike leaves a huge legacy of achievements, including his vital role in the formation of MEFL.

Mike will be sadly missed, not only for his tireless work and campaigning for sustainability and social justice, also for his collaborative, friendly approach to getting things done and for his sense of humour.

We offer our sincere condolences to Mike’s partner Lorna and his family.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Moreland Energy Foundation. Donations can be made online here or send cash or cheque to the MEFL Office.

MEFL Family

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Volunteer profile – Kate Mitchell

Kate Mitchell

I’ve been volunteering at MEFL since March, working on Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution program, helping with admin and community events. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the tasks that I do fit into a bigger picture and are valuable to MEFL’s business strategy.

MEFL is a great place, full of down-to-earth people who enjoy having a laugh but are super-passionate about their jobs.

Read more »

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Election issues

The federal Election is in a few weeks so we thought we’d have a look at the policies (if any) that the major parties have in place regarding climate change.

The Coalition on climate change

The 2016 Budget provides no vision to transition away from coal to the renewable economy of the future. Emphasised by the refusal of a price on carbon and the announcement last week that, more than half a billion dollars has been spent on planting trees under the Turnbull governments Direct Action Plan, while nothing has been done to tighten the relaxed laws on land clearing in NSW and QLD. The Sydney Morning Herald discusses how this policy is illogical and unable to achieve desired emissions reduction while safeguarding the big polluters.

The budget will see fuel tax credits cost Australians almost $26.5 billion over the next four years as they pay 40 cents in tax on every litre of fuel they buy while some of the world’s largest mining companies will not pay tax on the fuel they use, says the CEO of Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Kelly O’Shanassy in an interview with VICE.

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Solar for Community Groups

Community groups in the City of Moreland are saving money and carbon emissions through an innovative solar pilot program.

As part of the Zero Carbon Evolution strategy, Positive Charge has been working with Moreland City Council to pilot an innovative funding mechanism that enables community groups who rent their premises from Council to install solar panels. 

Read more »

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How Does Your Home Rate?

Victorian householders now have the opportunity to understand the thermal performance of their home and the efficiency of their major electrical appliances, as well as where their energy is being used.

The Victorian Government has developed Australia’s first home energy efficiency rating tool, known as The Residential Efficiency Scorecard, which has been specifically designed to help Victorians save on their power bills, and improve the comfort of their homes.

How it works

The Scorecard is a cloud-based web app used on a tablet, such as an iPad, which gives households a star rating out of ten for their home’s energy costs. The higher the star rating, the more energy efficient a home is and the lower the energy costs.

Expert assessors use the Scorecard to enter information about the fixed features of a home such as heaters, air conditioners, hot water systems, wall and floor materials, insulation, windows and solar power systems. They can then generate an overall Energy Efficiency Star Rating and certificate on the spot.

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Making Energy Visible

 For low-income households, managing energy costs can be critical to avoiding severe financial hardship. In-home display units that show energy usage in detail can help these households improve their energy efficiency and lower their costs, according to new report from the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS).
The report is titled Making Energy Visible: Using smart meters and in-home display units to improve energy efficiency for people facing disadvantage.

Background

The report makes the following points about the current situation for low-income households:

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Feed-in tariffs review

Currently households with solar panels receive a flat rate of only 5c per kilowatt-hour for electricity they feed in to the grid. The Victorian Essential Services Commission is currently reviewing the feed-in tariff system. The Commission has proposed that feed-in tariffs should reflect the broader economic, environmental and social benefits of solar.

Proposals

Under the proposed new system, feed-in tariffs would no longer be a fixed flat rate but would vary depending on the time of day (i.e. peak, shoulder, and off-peak periods). Tariffs would include a Critical Peak Payment and a payment for Avoided Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  These changes could add up to a doubling of the feed-in tariff from next year, perhaps even more. Whether or not the proposed new tariff system is adopted next year will be a political decision.

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Supporting business

The independent experts at Positive Charge can help you save energy and money: that’s the message our team has recently been taking to Moreland businesses. We’ve already assisted many local businesses identify simple ways to save. Popular energy saving initiatives for Moreland businesses have included: switching off unused equipment and appliances; upgrading to efficient LED lighting; adjusting heating and cooling temperature set-points; maintaining/servicing equipment; and solar.

It’s never too late

Businesses want to save money on energy costs but are typically time-poor and don’t have time to look at their energy usage – electricity and gas – in detail. We’ve found that it’s easy to forget the benefits of lowering your energy bills, until the next bill arrives. It’s good to know that it’s never too late to start saving and that Positive Charge can help your business do just that.

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Sydney Rd Street Party

sunny-sydney-rd

 

Thanks to all those who came to our stall on Sunday – we had a fabulous day (as did Sunny the Solar Bear).

Actions and barriers

We put up a poster with lots of energy-saving actions and invited visitors to put a star on the ones they plan to do. It was great to see so many people signing up to take action to help Moreland get on track for its fair share of the carbon budget (see the poster below).

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News from Paris

MEFL’s CEO Paul Murfitt is currently in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
He sent this report late in the evening on Monday 7 December (our time).

While the draft agreement reached in Paris over the last week has some promising elements, particularly the momentum for limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees, many big issues remain to be resolved in the upcoming second week of negotiations. Elements such as target review processes, the legal status of country commitments, paying for action and compensation for loss and damage, amongst other issues, will be exercising and testing our collective ability to reach a meaningful international agreement on climate action. For some great analysis and commentary on progress, have a look at this blog from the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at Melbourne University.

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The science of climate change

Academy of Science clears up any confusion

There’s no longer any excuse for anyone to be confused about climate change! The Australian Academy of Science has produced an excellent report titled The Science of Climate Change.

No, not another long obscure report with words and graphs you can’t understand. This report is written in everyday language and is broken down into nine “question and answer’ sections. There’s a choice of a downloadable PDF or an online version.This is a great resource to fill in the gaps in your knowledge of the issue, or to refer to if you find yourself debating the issue with ‘climate change sceptics’.

The introduction to the report reads: 

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MEFL in Malaysia

MEFL CEO Paul Murfitt was invited to Malaysia in September to share the MEFL story at the Penang International Green Carnival.
Paul reports on his experiences:

The Carnival was a smaller version of Melbourne’s Sustainable Living Festival; a showcase of local sustainable products, services, community groups and projects. Alongside the carnival, a conference program featured a diverse range of speakers from Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Japan and Australia (represented by MEFL).  It was great to interact with those working on local sustainability from the Asian region and to create links for future collaboration. 

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Brunswick Communities for Nature continues

Last year MEFL partnered with Adopt-a-Tree for Communities for Nature, an exciting project where residents and schools in Brunswick planted a nature corridor from Merri Creek to Moonee Ponds Creek.

We’re pleased to say this project is continuing through Brunswick Communities for Nature, with support from Moreland City Council and ourselves.

To give you an update on the continuation of the project, Brunswick Communities for Nature has prepared this short Q&A.

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Wrong way go back

Implications of Federal Government carbon emissions policy developments

MEFL considers that the Renewable Energy Target is critical to maintaining our trajectory towards a cleaner energy industry and that moves to abolish it are not founded on reasonable assessment. There are several campaigns underway to advocate for retention of the RET, notably groups such as the Community Power Agency, the World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth and the Climate Institute. MEFL strongly advocates everyone who is interested in seeing a greener, and prosperous future for Australia to support these initiatives.

There have been substantial shifts in the climate change and carbon emissions policies adopted by the Federal Government over the last few months. Due to independents and minor parties holding the balance in the senate, moves to eliminate ARENA and the CEFC have faltered, and these organisations are continuing to operate (albeit in reduced capacity.) However, the government has successfully repealed legislation on carbon pricing, and current indications are that it may seek to revoke the Renewable Energy Target (RET). 

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Victorian State Election 2014

What are the policy priorities?

This year’s Victorian State Election on 29 November provides opportunities for us to seek commitments from candidates for strengthened and expanded climate policies and actions.  MEFL has identified our key priorities for climate action in Victoria. We have been highlighting these priorities with the relevant MPs in the lead-up to the election:
  • Continuing and expanding support for renewable energy, including support for community-owned solar, and ensuring a fair price for solar-generated electricity
  • Continuing and strengthening the existing Energy Saver Incentive scheme, including specific support and targets for low-income households, rental housing and small-medium businesses.

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Climate change impacts on the Reef

Beautiful setting underlines urgency

To state the obvious: Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef is a beautiful place to spend the weekend. At the end of May, MEFL CEO Paul Murfitt participated in ‘Camp Earth Hour’; a workshop on Heron Island which brought together community representatives from around Australia to build on the “Lights Out for the Reef” campaign from earlier this year.

The workshop was the next stage in the rollout of a new look Earth Hour which will involve year-round community action on climate change. MEFL is one of the community groups working with Earth Hour to (re)build climate change as a major political issue, through community action and alliance building.

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Climate change: global and local

The recently published IPCC report Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerabilities, makes for sobering reading. The report says that the impacts of climate change are already being felt all around the globe, and it’s going to get worse. The report warns that it’s time to start adapting to climate change.MEFL and local councils in Melbourne’s north are already taking action. Through the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA), they are collaborating on the Integrated Regional Vulnerability Assessment
project.The project combines “big-picture” expertise on climate change with local knowledge about who is most vulnerable. This will enable the nine NAGA councils to better understand common needs and how to address them on a joint basis.

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Heatwaves 2: Local action

Climate change is here

Climate change is already making hot days hotter and heatwaves longer and more frequent. Heatwaves pose a risk to the health of everyone, especially the elderly and chronically ill, and increase the demand for health care services. Arecent analysis of the vulnerability of urban populations to extreme heat events found that most of Moreland and particularly Coburg, Coburg North, Hadfield and Glenroy have extremely high vulnerability to heat-related illness and morbidity. This largely reflects the presence of urban heat island effects, higher numbers of older residents, people with disabilities and migrant communities as well as increasing urban density.
MEFL has been active on this issue before, partnering with Merri Community Health Services in 2011 to conduct research and provide free retrofits and advice to vulnerable housholds.

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Climate science updated

The IPCC report

On Friday 27 September climate scientists from around the world gathered in Stockholm to launch the latest IPCC report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest Assessment Reportprovides the world with an authoritative and comprehensive update on the physical science of climate change, the impacts, and mitigation strategies.

Assessment reports are released every 5-7 years; the latest report details with scientific certainty the changing climate, the human causes of this change; and the current and future impacts.  Scientists are now unequivocally pointing to the evidence for the human cause of climate change, the impacts (many of which are already being experienced) and the urgent need for wide-ranging action.

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Putting Energy and Climate back on the agenda

It’s time to ‘up the energy’ of the federal election

Australia is in the “critical decade” – what we do now, including who we vote for, is really important for the future of Australia’s energy and climate.

The critical decade means voting with energy and climate in mind.

We want a safe climate future

Bold climate policy involves transforming our economy and giving greater certainty to individuals, community, business and industry in respect to direct and meaningful action on the challenges posed by climate change.

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Carbon price package – The basics

So, after all the waiting, we now have the carbon price package laid out before us. In short, MEFL believes that the policy is an excellent start to reducing Australia’s emissions, and to transforming Australia’s economy to take advantage of clean energy opportunities. See ourmedia release for our full response.

Over the next few weeks, we will post updates on this blog, with detailed analysis of each element of the package. But for starters, here’s a quick rundown of the basics.

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Climate Action – what you can do

Climate action in Australia depends on Federal MPs, who will be watching carefully over the next few months to see where public opinion is heading.

If you’re one of the majority of Australians who support climate action, contact your Federal Member of Parliament and/or the members of the Multi-party Committee on Climate Change (MPCCC) to tell them you support putting a price on carbon pollution.

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Confused about carbon pricing?

Though most details of the Gillard Government’s proposed carbon pricing policy are yet to be decided, public debate is well and truly under way. Activist group Getup is planning a demonstration this Saturday outside Julia Gillard’s offices at Treasury Gardens in Melbourne, to show support for climate action and a clean energy future (see details here).

With all the political posturing on this issue, it is hard to get a clear idea of the actual issues. Here’s our 30 second run down of the key points.

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Gillard eyes carbon price but loses sight of complementary policies

The most worrying aspect of Julia Gillard’s announcement last week of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in funding cuts for climate change policies and programs is not the loss of the programs themselves. Greg Combet has since said that the programs targeted for cuts are ineffective. Even if this is true, it would not justify removing funding from climate change initiatives completely. Instead, the funding should be reallocated to programs that are effective.

Apart from the clear paradox of taking money away from climate change programs to fund recovery from extreme weather events of the very kind that are predicted to increase in frequency with climate change, our worry is that these cuts may reveal an attitude within the Gillard Government that carbon pricing is the silver bullet, and complementary climate change policies are unnecessary.

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Extreme climate costs: the economic case for action

As the clean-up in Queensland begins, the severe economic impact of these floods is becoming clear.  One economist has estimated that the cost could be as much as $13 billion, around 1% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The economic impact of these floods will include the slowing or suspending of mining operations which has global implications and affects the price of commodities such as coal and the production of steel, the extreme destruction of infrastructure such as roads, railways and buildings including many homes that will need to be repaired, ruined agricultural operations which will have knock-on effects for the rest of Australia and globally in terms of higher food prices and prices of agricultural products such as cotton, and high levels of cancellations for tourism operators.  Further information on the cost of the Queensland floods can be found in these articles from The Sydney Morning Herald,The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun.  See also this incredible interactive before-and-after map on the ABC website to get a good indication of the impact of these floods around Queensland.

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Floods and climate change

Our thoughts this week are with the people affected by the devastating floods in Queensland.  Donations can be made via the Australian Red Cross website and will assist by helping people get through this disaster, and clean up and rebuild once the water subsides.

After a year of extraordinary disasters in Australia and around the world, including these floods, last year’s bushfires in Victoria, record-breaking heat waves and bushfires in Russia and severe wintry weather in Europe to name a few, many people are questioning the link between extreme weather events and climate change.

It is important to remember is that climate change is unlikely to be the sole cause of extreme weather events.  Such events have always been a feature of our natural environment, particularly in Australia.  We have always had floods, droughts, heat waves and bushfires, although sometimes the most extreme events occur many years or decades apart and so we feel like we’re suffering through something new and terrible.  However, climate change predictions do forecast that climate change will make extreme weather events more frequent, more severe and more damaging.

A number of good summaries of the connections between climate change and extreme flooding can be found on the websites of the Climate Action Centre and the Australian Conservation Foundation (see also ACF’s fact sheet).

With some degree of climate change now unavoidable, the Queensland floods demonstrate the urgency of integrating climate change projections into our urban planning and building design processes so we are well prepared to respond to more frequent and severe weather in the future.

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Local markets – healthy, energy efficient and community building

When we think of energy and sustainability issues, we often think first of big polluting power plants, cars and factories.  But we often forget about the ’embodied’ energy in the products we use. That’s the energy required to make the product and transport it to the shop where we buy it, as well as the energy we use getting to the shop itself. And that’s where local markets come in.

Local markets offer a great opportunity to reduce the impact of the products you consume.  You can often walk, cycle or hop on a tram to get to your local market, rather than driving longer distances.  In addition, local markets often sell local produce.  This reduces the distance and thus the amount of energy required to transport the product from the farm – often referred to as ‘food miles’.  Farmers’ markets and ‘slow food’ markets are often the best places to find locally sourced produce. And of course you can always just ask the seller where their produce comes from.  You can also usually find organic and ‘ethical’ produce at local markets, or at least ask the seller directly about a product, where it has come from and how it was produced.

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