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NSW allocates funds for community renewable energy projects

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Six community energy projects in northern NSW have been awarded grants by the NSW government – including a range of solar, bio-gas and mini-hydro projects, and including one to take a whole village of 300 people off grid with renewables.

They are among 19 groups to share some $846,000 in the latest round of funding to help advance local renewable energy projects, as part of the NSW government’s push to assist community energy projects. Other winners are to be announced in coming days.

Three community groups in Lismore will share $95,000 to help advance local renewable energy projects.

Leslie Williams, the parliamentary secretary for renewable energy, says $40,000 will go to Starfish Initiatives to help build two 100kW solar farms as part of Lismore’s 100 per cent renewable energy plan. It is being hailed as the first council-community partnership in Australia to build a community owned and run solar farm.

The $40,000 of seed funding is designed to help to raise investment from community financiers, who will manage the project with Lismore City Council and partner organisations.

Another $40,000 will go to Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre to help finance a small-scale bio-gas project in a local milk and cheese producing dairy farm, and create a business model for further development of two community-owned bio-gas hubs in Murwillumbah and Casino.

tyalgum

Another $15,000 will go to help Australian Radio Towers – a company based in northern NSW – develop a wholly community-owned project to take the entire Tyalgum Village “off the grid.” Tyalgum has a population of 300 people.

Meanwhile, the town of Mullumbimby will receive $34,000 to develop a feasibility study for a crowdfunding platform to aid clean energy development in the region, including a planned 75kW community solar farm.

The digital funding platform developed by Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM) would be  designed to help communities obtain the means to produce the energy they require and allowing profits to be retained locally.

The solar system could be deployed in collaboration with Byron Shire Council, and would be built either at the Council’s administration building located in Mullumbimby, or at the Mullumbimby sewerage treatment plant.

COREM was established in 2014 for the sole purpose of developing community-owned renewable energy projects in the Mullumbimby area, with profits from these projects benefiting the sustainable development of the local community, inspired by the goal of making Mullumbimby a 100% renewable energy community.

The Coffs Coast Climate Action Group (CCCAG) will receive $29,500 for its Repower Coffs renewable energy project, which includes the installation of solar power and energy efficiency measures in the community, particularly in low income rental housing.

“The Repower Coffs project will address two community issues in what is a high uptake area of roof top solar – overcoming a lack of uptake of rooftop solar in rental housing and the increasing cost of living for low income households – while also supporting the local solar industry,” Williams said in a statement.

“The Repower Coffs project aims to install around 80 kilowatts of solar PV on up to 45 homes by the end of 2016, with the first phase of installations on 10 to 15 houses, a total installed capacity of around 15kW, planned for early 2016.”  

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