All our summaries of the outcomes of the Spark! conference are now available. There’s one for each conference stream.
Regional Action Plan
MEFL has been working on an exciting project that goes to the heart of what we do – empowering communities to take action in the energy transition and ensure no one is left behind.
The Department of Energy, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Port Phillip region appointed MEFL to develop a draft Renewable Energy Engagement, Communication, and Action Plan for the Port Phillip region. The Plan aims to enable proactive engagement with the community in supporting the transition to renewable energy. The DELWP Port Phillip region consists of 31 local government areas and part of Mitchell Shire Council, all within Metropolitan Melbourne.
The Fuzzy Front End is the early pipeline of innovation where creative problem-solving approaches are used to navigate through ambiguity and to discover real user needs. It’s the first stage an organisation goes through in developing a new idea, where opportunities are identified and concepts are developed, prior to entering the formal development process for the product or service. MEFL’s CEO Alison Rowe participated in a panel discussion on this topic at the Swinburne University Design Factory in November. Alison’s analogy to explain the Fuzzy Front End was making dinner on a Sunday evening:
In November the Andrews Labor Government was re-elected. Prior to the election the party had made a number of election commitments relating to getting more solar power, battery storage and solar hot water (including hot water heat pumps) in to Victorian homes. So the re-election and planned implementation of Labor’s Solar Homes program is good news!
Even before the election the Labor government had already launched part one of the Solar Homes program, whereby up to 24,000 homes were eligible to access a rebate for 50% of their solar install cost (up to $2,225). Approximately 14,000 households had already expressed an interest, before heading to the polling booths! This clearly demonstrates that the public are on board with an energy transition and demand is high.
This Christmas story is by MEFL’s Jason Cox (pictured).
Santa looked out across the North Pole with sadness on his face. Seldom was Santa sad but on this occasion he couldn’t hide the disappointment in his eyes.
“What’s wrong Santa” asked Mrs Claus. “You look troubled.” Santa sighed with the weight of more than his generous belly. “I don’t think I want to do Christmas this year.” Mrs Claus was shocked. Christmas was the happiest time of the year and Santa loved it. What could be the problem?
Santa continued, “Climate change is hurting the polar bears. Every year they have less space to live because of the melting ice and I feel responsible. At Christmas everyone buys so much stuff and they drive all over the place to buy things. I can deliver presents all over the world with almost no carbon footprint, just a little reindeer flatulence, but the more they buy the more it hurts the environment. I think the meaning of Christmas has been lost.”
I joined MEFL in August 2018 as Project Coordinator in the major projects team. My role is across our two state government funded research programs, the Victorian Healthy Homes Program and EnergySmart Public Housing Project. These projects are delivering energy appliance and thermal upgrades to over two thousand homes across Victoria. My role is focused on delivery of the installations where I work closely with delivery partners and subcontractors to develop and implement our project plans and manage the installations.
MEFL’s Community Engagement Lead Lucy Best was interviewed recently about domestic solar power for the Undercover Architect podcast.
It’s such a big topic they needed 2 episodes to cover it all! Lucy knows the topic inside-out and cuts through the jargon to explain the choices and issues clearly.
Both parts are now available.
- See the intro page to Part 1 on Undercover Architect
- See the intro page to Part 2 on Undercover Architect
…or just click the play buttons below to listen now.
Gippsland’s Energy Innovation Co-op (EICo-op) is one of many local community energy groups around Victoria powering ahead with locally-managed sustainable energy projects. EICo-op is running a range of initiatives in South Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley.
The group also collaborated with MEFL and other community groups in the Victorian Community Solar Alliance to create the Community Solar Portal. The value of the Portal has been proven in two of EICo-op’s recent projects, which have used its resources to get up and running.
Back in 2011 MEFL produced a series of advice videos demonstrating simple home energy-efficiency actions – replacing halogen downlights with LEDs, draught sealing, low-flow shower heads etc. They were made in 8 languages – English, Turkish, Urdu, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek and Mandarin. Positive Charge followed up a couple of years later with another series, including videos in Spanish, Cantonese and Macedonian. The videos were well received at the time, but over the years those videos have steadily increased in reach and popularity, with some exceeding all expectations!
Energy Advice Centre Coordinator
I have recently joined MEFL as the Energy Advice Centre Coordinator in the Zero Carbon Services team.
I lead the Energy Advice Centre (EAC) team to ensure that we are resourced to meet the needs of a number of MEFL programs and major projects.
MEFL’s Head of Development Kate Nicolazzo was a speaker at Cities Power Partnership’s Summit in October. The theme was “Accelerating Local Action” and Kate spoke about the range of projects MEFL is undertaking in partnership with local councils, business, and communities.
Speakers from councils, state government agencies, non-profits and academia discussed and celebrated the good work local councils are doing to fight climate change.
The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) has appointed MEFL’s CEO, Alison Rowe, as Chair of its Board. ISCA is the peak body for sustainable infrastructure in Australia and New Zealand. It is a member-based, not-for-profit organisation that advances sustainability outcomes in infrastructure. The principal means by which ISCA advances sustainability is through the IS rating scheme, a third-party assured, performance-based reporting framework for design, construction and operation of assets. ISCA’s members include large construction contractors, consultants, government transport authorities, peak bodies and councils.
There has been quite a bit of change on the MEFL Board recently. As we reported in the last eBulletin, Ian Thomas and Rosemary Bissett retired from the Board after serving some 18 years each.
We are pleased to welcome Nikki Potter as a Director on the MEFL Board. Nikki formally joined Board in September 2018.
We are also pleased to welcome Sarah Paparo as the new Company Secretary (also joining in September).
At our AGM on 23 October we also held an election the position of Community Director. Imogen Jubb was elected as the new Community elected Director. Welcome Imogen!
We sadly farewell Catherine Leslie who has served on the Board as the Community Director for 4 years. We wish Catherine well and thank her for her dedication and contribution to MEFL.
This is the text of a speech given by MEFL’s CEO Alison Rowe at the ACOSS “Rise to the Challenge” Conference in Sydney on 29-30 October.
The gap between those who have solar and those who don’t is widening.
It raises the concern around the costs for those who are left behind on the grid; do they pay more for electricity?
Energy poverty impacts more and more Australians, with the most vulnerable members being those on low incomes, including pensioners, students, and concession card holders. This increases when you consider renters and large families.
Over the past year MEFL’s Zero Carbon Evolution and Positive Charge teams have been working with CERES to upgrade their EcoHouse to become an all-electric, zero emissions home. Previously the house used gas for cooking and hot water heating. As gas is a fossil fuel this needed to be replaced if CERES are to meet their goal of zero emissions by 2025.
MEFL’s Manny Pasqualini gave a very well-received presentation at Darebin City Council’s Climate Emergency Conference in September. Manny spoke about the burgeoning community energy sector in Victoria. He described the various factors that are driving the expansion of the sector; political, environmental, economic, technological and social.
Trends and innovations
Manny’s presentation covered some of the major trends and innovations in community energy, including community electricity retailers, medium-scale solar projects, microgrids and regional alliances. He also featured the work that MEFL has done in partnership with the Victorian Community Solar Alliance to support community solar groups by creating the Community Solar Toolkit.
Law firm Corrs is publishing a series of online interviews titled Securing our Energy Future. For the second in the series, Corrs interviewed MEFL’s CEO Alison Rowe.
The interview covered a wide range of topics related to MEFL’s vision of an equitable zero carbon society. They discussed how communities can make the energy transition despite a fragmented approach at Federal and State level, how policies translate to action ‘on the ground’, investment in renewables, MEFL’s own efforts to ‘walk the talk’ and be a sustainable organisation, and Australia’s opportunity to be a world leader.
The full interview is available on the Corrs website.
MEFL will remain ever thankful to Ian Thomas and Rosemary Bissett for their service to the MEFL Board.
Rosemary served as a Director and Ian as the Company Secretary. They have both been on the Board since the inception of MEFL, totalling 36 years of service and dedication to MEFL. Rosemary and Ian attended their last Board meeting in September. We will miss their wisdom, humour, guidance and support.
In recognition of their contribution to MEFL, they were both awarded Life Membership, so we hope to see them at the AGM soon.
In my new role I will be managing the Zero Carbon Evolution team – delivering on Moreland City Council’s ambition for the Moreland community to reach zero net carbon emissions. This will involve delivering energy efficiency upgrades and solar installations on homes, businesses and community buildings throughout Moreland, as well as liaising and working closely with Council staff.