Renewable Newstead will soon launch into major talks with our local community following the appointment of a consultant to develop a business case and viable model to switch our town to 100 per cent renewable energy.

It will be critical that this model reflects the needs and aspirations of the Newstead community.

Castlemaine based company Energy for the People will develop the business case and model over the next 12 months, in close consultation with the community.

Six applicants submitted tenders for the job.

The appointment means we can now begin to come up with options to share with the community and seek their input as much as possible.

We have set up ground rules that our model must meet to provide renewable energy for Newstead. The model must:

  • Be grid-connected
  • Be opt-in and compete with the grid on price
  • Use 100 per cent renewable energy
  • Create community benefit

Energy for the People was founded in 2012 by Tosh Szatow and Alex Houlston with the explicit purpose of accelerating the transition of Australia’s energy market from centralised, fossil fuel based electricity to decentralised clean energy infrastructure.

Energy for the People is working with the northern NSW community of Tyalgum to switch to 100 per cent energy self-sufficiency. Among other things, it has also developed a $13m energy performance contract for public housing assets in Victoria and advised the developers of the Cape Paterson eco-village on zero-emission housing.

Tosh is a former CSIRO scientist whose major project there was to examine the value of a distributed energy system, i.e. one in which energy is generated at many different points, close to where it is used, rather than at centralised power stations such as we have in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley.

Sensing the need for new energy supply models that better met the needs of community, he left CSIRO in Melbourne and moved to Castlemaine with his wife Juliet and their children Tom and Louis.

Energy for the People negotiated an agreement committing local network company Powercor to share energy data, and collaborate on the design of a new energy supply model for the town with Renewable Newstead.

We at Renewable Newstead are delighted to have such experienced innovators in energy projects helping us develop our model. It focuses on stationary energy only at this stage.

We are also excited to have more people joining us around the table as our small team works on this project. Active contributors to date are Andrew Skeoch, Geoff Park, Michael Butler, James Butler, Simon Beckett, David Schoen, Shaun Britt, Don Culvenor, Saide Gray, David Stratton and Genevieve Barlow. Ros Hart and Miranda Bone have also attended meetings and are keen supporters.

The project is being developed with a grant from the Victorian Government.