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.
Old Energy – New Energy
The Co-op has started construction of a community-owned solar farm in Wonthaggi. Being on the site of a former coal mine, the project has been titled “Old Energy-New Energy”. The project was launched by Victorian Minister for Energy, Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio in October. Projects like this require legal documentation such as lease agreements and Power Purchase Agreements. The Portal provides templates for these documents, which EICo-op was able to use for this project.
Templates from the Portal were also useful for the Co-op’s solar heating project at the public swimming pool in the town of Foster. A loan was required for the project infrastructure, so once again legal documentation was required. As the Portal’s loan agreement template was still under development at the time, EICo-op contributed to its development and then used the finished product to secure the necessary loan. The loan template and many others are now available for other community solar groups to use. Access to these document templates removes a major obstacle for local groups embarking on ambitious projects – they don’t have to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of drawing up complex documents from scratch.
Photo: from left, Graeme Baxter (Parks Vic Reg Director), Moragh Mackay(EICo-op Chair), Cr Brett Tessari (Deputy Mayor Bass Coast), Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Cr Michael Whelan (Bass Coast Shire), John Coulter (EICo-op Project Officer), Steve Harrup (President Friends of State Coal Mine)