What is community energy?

The idea of community owned is that the project is run by the community, the profits are kept in the community and the benefits stay in the community. Anyone in the community, including individuals, businesses, families, other community groups, even super funds, can invest in the solar farm and enjoy a return on their investment.

Community-owned renewable energy is not new to most developed countries, especially in Europe and the USA. But here in Australia it is a relatively new idea and only a few renewable energy projects are currently owned by the community. 

Our project is committed to employing local people, local contractors and suppliers to build and run the solar farm as much as possible and only use people outside the region when comparable expertise is not available locally. 

A percentage of the profits will be allocated to a special Community Fund which administers funds to help disadvantaged people in our community with their energy bills. 

This project is directly aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of our community. Future projects that we may embark on will have the same aim, and as far as possible we will ensure that the components we use in construction will have as minimal impact on carbon emissions as possible. 

The Community Fund

The Goulburn Community Energy Cooperative (GCEC) was born out of an initiative of Community Energy for Goulburn (CE4G). Early in the history of CE4G the committee adopted its Mission Statement and Objectives, and included in its Principles:

“To help reduce the power costs of the most vulnerable in our community with the aim of making energy more affordable.” and

“To create a community fund to facilitate the equitable sharing of the benefits of all projects”.

These two principles form the basis of the GCEC Community Fund, which will be set up once the solar farm starts to produce a profit from its sale of its electricity. 

  • A percentage of the solar farm’s annual profits will be retained for the Community Fund prior to distribution to shareholders
  • Shareholders will also be given the option of donating a tax-deductible proportion of their dividends to the Community Fund
  • Because we have negotiated favourable lease terms that are below nokrmal commercial rates, those savings are able to be passed on to the Community Fund.

Whilst final decisions have yet to be made, potential distribution methods include:

  • Direct distribution of funds to one or more charitable organisations whose current activities includes assisting those within our community who struggle to afford adequate electricity.
  • A significant number of disadvantaged people live in poor standard rental accommodation with low levels of insulation and as a result have high electricity usage. A proportion of the Community Fund can be used to educate disadvantaged households in the efficient use of energy and the means of lowering energy consumption by conducting home energy audits including providing guidance and assistance with reducing electricity consumption.

It is the intention of the GCEC Board that 100% of funds within the Community Fund will be used to assist those in need, with particular emphasis on the issue of energy poverty.

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