Updated: Sep 26
Last week, federal member for Indi, Helen Haines launched a blueprint for regional communities to capitalise on the inevitable boom that renewables can bring to local, rural and regional communities.
In true Helen Haines style, she has spear-headed a highly consultative process with communities across Australia to come up with the Local Power Plan.
Narrabri in Northwest NSW is ideally positioned to be part of this renewable revolution. Our community has seen few benefits from decades of coal mining and is now divided by the proposed Narrabri Gasfield.
However the community can agree on a renewable future.
Following the lead of community-led democracy championed by the people of Indi, community members surveyed over 800 households in Narrabri to find that more than 97% support a renewable future for the Shire.
Out of that process, local not-for-profit company, Geni.Energy was born.
The key principals of the Local Power Plan, developed by Helen Haines, align directly with those of Geni.Energy. The Plan seeks multiple, small scale projects that keep the benefits local. It is underpinned by three policy areas that Helen Haines is taking to federal parliament later this year for support, under the "Australian Local Power Bill 2020".
The Plan includes:
1. The Local Power Scheme to support communities to develop their own energy projects;
2. The Underwriting New Community Investment Scheme will underwrite mid-scale projects;
3. The Community Renewable Investment Scheme will enable local communities to co-invest in new large-scale projects.
Our community around Narrabri is crying out for a plan such as this that can deliver real, broad and equitable benefits to locals.
Over the next 30 years we will see all of Australia's coal fired power plants replaced by renewables and storage, with more than a $1 trillion expected to be spent. This is a huge opportunity for rural and regional communities. We have the best solar resources, some cracking wind resources and plenty of space around here.
But it must be done well.
It is crucial that our community, gets on the front foot to ensure that as the inevitable wave of renewables rolls into our backyards we are making sure that:
Jobs are filled by locals, skilled up to meet the needs, and FIFO's are discouraged
Local businesses are supported to provide the vast majority of the goods and services inputs
Renewable developments are small scale and multiple, providing benefits to a larger number of people
Community ownership is a compulsory part of all projects, ensuring savings and financial gains remain in the local economy
Circular economy and full life cycle of products are considered in the planning stages
That it is not development, for development's sake, but considered, appropriate and ideally scaled to suit
Special consideration is given to how those most vulnerable in our community can benefit and how this new direction can help mend the inequalities of the past that have left many Indigenous Australian's at an intrinsic disadvantage
The Namoi Region has borne witness to poor planning choices, corporate dictatorship and community disregard. We take this knowledge forward in our new direction, using it to guide our future, with wisdom, enthusiasm and determination.
We welcome Helen Haines and the #LocalPowerPlan to partner with us in this new future for our region.