So far, we have engaged with the power distributor, Powercor, the company that owns the poles and wires that get electricity to us.
We now know our town uses about 2,340,000 kWh of energy annually – that’s just the 400 or so homes and businesses within the immediate township.
We know that it’s going to be too expensive to build a concentrated solar farm at this scale – that would take money to buy the land & requires lots of permits and process to go through. We also know we just don’t have the wind, or other renewable energy sources nearby to power our town.
So our plan is focused on having rooftop solar panels throughout Newstead, and helping people use energy more efficiently. We are also looking at how to get people cheaper deals on their energy, and for that energy to come from local solar power. This will mean you get lower power bills, and are buying energy produced right here in Newstead.
We know that some people don’t want solar panels on their roofs, some premises are facing the wrong direction or don’t have a roof that can accommodate solar panels. Historic buildings are a case in point. Renewable Newstead will aim to ensure that even if you don’t have solar panels on your roof, or even if you don’t have money to invest, you can still be part of the solution.
Here is where it gets complicated. To give everyone a great price on their power is just the start. To make sure prices stay low for the long term is another challenge. Here’s why.
The price of energy sold down poles and wires is regulated, and makes up about 50% of your bill. Every five years, distributors (the businesses that own and manage the poles and wires) sit down with the Australian Energy Regulator and argue the case for minimum pricing levels. These prices are set to ensure they will get the money needed to maintain their assets and secure a return on their historical investment.
Despite being privatised, Victoria has some of the lowest distribution network costs in Australia.
The catch is, if we use less energy in Newstead, and generate most of our own, there is less money going to the distributor. If everyone in Victoria did what Newstead did, the distributor may need to increase their prices, because regardless of how much energy we use, they still expect a return on their historical investments.
To give the people of Newstead and the distributor full confidence in our solution, we are looking at ways to address this issue. It’s complex work, and may take time to resolve. But we think we are getting close.
Meantime, please join us in helping switch our town to 100% Renewable Newstead by
● Completing our survey – check here
● Inviting us to address your community group
● Joining our working team – meetings are at different times. To get meeting alerts, email firstname.lastname@example.org