2019 essay contest targets energy efficiency and social justice

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Gill Owen Essay Prize Australian writers are invited to share their insights about fairness and efficiency in the energy sector for a share of $5000 in prizes.

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Young writers are invited to share their insights on energy efficiency and social justice for a share of $5000 in prizes.

The Gill Owen Essay Prize, which launches today, aims to inspire emerging writers under 35 years old to reflect on the importance of saving energy and improving social justice. The prize, now in its third and final year, honours the memory of Dr Gill Owen, a pioneering researcher and advocate for energy fairness and efficiency in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Dr Owen advised government and regulators on a wide range of issues including energy efficiency, fuel poverty, economic regulation and sustainability in energy and water, smart meters, distributed energy and demand response.

She highlighted the importance of energy affordability and energy savings for disadvantaged households through her work in organisations including National Energy Action, Sustainability First, Monash University and Energy Consumers Australia.

She was among the first to champion the interests of consumers and the disadvantaged on the boards of the UK’s and Australia’s competition and energy regulators, working passionately for these causes until her death from a brain tumour in August 2016.

The Gill Owen Essay Prize is proudly supported by AGL Energy, the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), Uniting Communities, the Association for Energy and Environmental Equity and media partner Renew Economy.

“Gill made a major contribution to empowering consumers and the disadvantaged, and highlighted the importance of improving energy efficiency,” said ISF Research Director Dr Chris Dunstan.

“Gill understood that fairness and energy efficiency are not just important in their own right, but also essential to the social licence for a rapid clean energy transition. This competition builds on Gill’s legacy by encouraging young people to shine a light on these often-overlooked issues.”

David Green, Gill’s husband and former Chief Executive of the Clean Energy Council, said: “This competition is a wonderful way to mark Gill’s work. I look forward to stimulating new thought from those who can build on Gill’s work afresh.”

Joel Dignam was awarded first place in the 2018 Prize for his essay ‘Now more than ever: the urgent need for minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties

“I applied because I saw the competition was about energy and social justice and the intersection of these issues. Making sure that people who might be worse off in our society can have access to energy, affordable energy is important to me in terms of creating a just society, so the opportunity to write about that and explore the issues there was very appealing,” he said.

The writer of the winning essay will receive $3,000 and have their article published in Renew Economy, while two runner-up essays, one for a student, one for a non-student will each be awarded $1,000.

Entries for the Gill Owen Prize close at 5pm on Friday 8 November 2019. Find out more and apply here.

Dr Gill Owen’s legacy is being further acknowledged through the Gill Owen International Scholarship, also launched today by Energy Consumers Australia.

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