EARTH FIRST: Will Orange join progressive towns taking green initiative?

STRIDING AHEAD: Towns like Yackandandah in Victoria and Goulburn have taken it upon themselves to launch renewable energy initiatives.
STRIDING AHEAD: Towns like Yackandandah in Victoria and Goulburn have taken it upon themselves to launch renewable energy initiatives.

There is a growing number of towns in Australia who have chosen to go it alone on renewable energy. One such town is Yackandanah in Victoria. Yackandandah is a picturesque village in the Victorian Stanley Ranges, population 950.

Inspired by a community energy forum hosted by their local council, a group of Yackandandah residents decided that they would start a community conversation about how Yackandandah could turn on to renewable energy.

The initial conversation became one of many. Through formal and informal discussion, Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) eventuated.

With the inception of TRY came an ambition to power Yackandandah with 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.

This was to be achieved by using bulk buys of solar panels and batteries for local residents and businesses. Also under consideration was a large community uptake of solar hot water systems and the replacement of community lighting with LED lights.

An energy fund was also proposed to stimulate renewable energy innovation in the community.

Other renewable energy initiatives planned by Yackandandah are plans to generate electricity via a solar farm designed to top up extra town energy needs and a mini grid to enable sharing and trading energy within the town.

What Yackandandah has achieved, and will continue to achieve in the future is the result of community enthusiasm achieved through formal and informal meetings, use of local print media, social media and public forums.

Communication and education has had the effect of informing the Yackandandah citizens about the possibilities of community renewable energy, as well as creating motivation for making it happen.

Goulburn is another town which has made a decision to take control of renewable energy in its community.

The group driving the Goulburn renewable energy initiative is known as ‘Clean Energy 4 Goulburn’ and was formed in response to attending a sustainable energy forum with the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage.

A portion of the  power generated will be sold to the Goulburn community, the profits of which will be returned to the community.

Another portion will also be sold to a large consumer such as the local council. The solar farm is expected to be completed in 2018.

Above are two examples of towns in Australia that are taking the initiative on renewable energy. Many other towns are well on the way to a renewable energy future.

Let us hope that one day Orange will be on the list.

Sources: Neelina Choahan Arena Wire, December 1 2017; and Ellen McCutchen, Sydney Morning Herald, November 6 2017.