Regional renewable energy hubs to create jobs

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The Victorian Government is establishing a series of community power hubs for regional Victoria as part of  a $1 million project, which also involves research into the renewable energy potential of Bendigo’s historic mine-shafts.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced $900,000 for three, two-year pilot Community Power Hubs in Bendigo, Ballarat and the Latrobe Valley.

The community-owned and operated hubs will drive investment into regional Victoria, create jobs and help reduce electricity bills.

Ms D’Ambrosio said, “Interest in community energy projects has increased significantly over the years, with communities wanting greater control over their energy and associated costs.”

The hubs will support the development of renewable energy projects by providing legal and technical expertise, as well as start-up funding. Eligible projects could include ‘solar gardens’ and community wind farms.

The Labor Government will also contribute $100,000 towards a feasibility study into whether Bendigo’s empty mineshafts can be used to generate and store renewable energy.

“Solar pumped hydro has the potential to store and generate significant amounts of energy. This feasibility study is the first key step towards realising the benefits of solar pumped hydro for the Bendigo region,”  Ms D’Ambrosio said.

An additional $50,000 will be provided by the City of Greater Bendigo to support the study, which will investigate the viability of using solar-powered pumped hydro to generate and store electricity.

Early calculations suggest the facility could generate up to 784kWh – boosting the reliability of the local power grid, creating local jobs and supporting the growth of local businesses.

This type of energy generation is expected to provide around the clock supply and make Bendigo a net exporter of renewable energy.

Expressions of interest to host a pilot Community Power Hub are now open. For more information and to apply, visit http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/services-and-advice/funding/pilot-community-power-hub

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