Category Archives: News

Looking at reliability

TRY’s chair Matt Charles-Jones was a guest on ABC Radio Melbourne’s The Conversation Hour yesterday, discussing grid reliability and energy options with Warwick Long alongside Tony Wood (Grattan Institute) and Simon Holmes à Court (a senior advisor to the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University and on the board of the Smart Energy Council).

A man giving a presentation
Matthew Charles-Jones talking at a workshop in Benalla in 2018. Photo: TRY

This episode of The Conversation Hour was prompted by the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO’s) call for investment in the energy grid to stay reliable and avoid major blackouts, amid the increasing stresses of changing climate on both the grid and some industries.

Matt discussed TRY’s plans to rethink the way a community gets its energy, to trade, share and generate electricity locally via Indigo Power and the Ubi smart energy controller, as well as our plan to reach 100% renewable energy by 2022.

Unfortunately, the slot was too short to mention TRY’s current project looking at scaling up energy storage via the recent federal grant from the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund. Over the next 15 months we’ll be investigating both pumped hydro and community-scale battery storage options to help us reach 100%, which is a big part of both reaching that goal and providing reliability both generally and during times of crisis.

You can listen to the episode here (the first ten minutes are taken by a Victorian Pandemic update):

The Conversation Hour, ABC Radio Melbourne, Thursday 25th May

Matt’s portion starts at the 36 minute mark and goes for 5 minutes. But it’s well worth also listening to the portions containing both Tony Wood (starts at the 19 minute mark) and Simon Holmes à Court (41 minute mark), as they bring pragmatic and knowledgeable perspectives to the energy debate.

Community-scale pumped hydro & battery storage

Great excitement today as TRY was successful with a grant application to the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund, setting us up for determining the best community-scale generation and storage options to reach our 100% goal!

Two women and two men stand in front of some batteries and inverters holding a golden yak
Helen Haines MP came to Yackandandah today to celebrate our recent grant approval with TRY members, Matthew Charles-Jones, Kim McConchie and Donna Jones. Photo: TRY

We are thrilled to confirm TRY has received just under $350,000 to finalise the scaled generation and storage plans for a sprint toward 100% clean local power. Our project will be investigating the feasibility and best mix of 1-2 MWh of pumped hydro and 3-4 MWh of community-scale battery storage, to work alongside some scaled solar generation, to complement the town’s existing generation and storage capacity.

We are so pleased to be doing this with the massive support of Dr. Helen Haines, Independent Member for Indi. As part of the project we will be working with the good folks of Yackandandah, Mondo and Tamar Hydro Pty Ltd, identifying the best mix of technologies and ways of operating them that will serve Yackandandah’s needs.

Our project has been made possible through the federal government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund through the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. The fund supports studies that look at microgrid technologies to assist grid-challenged communities in regional and remote areas, with a view to supplying more reliable and cost effective energy solutions for those communities.

Onwards to 2022!

Voices from the North East

TRY recently participated in a podcast on community energy groups in north-east Victoria called Voices from the North East. With the final episode of the series now released, if you’re looking for some fascinating stories to listen to in isolation, this one’s worth checking out.

Simon Duncan interviews Matt Charles-Jones
Simon Duncan from Green Energy Videos has collaborated with TRY on a number of videos and now a podcast series too. He’s seen here interviewing Matt Charles-Jones last year. Photo: Juliette Milbank

A mosaic of community energy groups are working hard across Australia to reform the national energy system.  Local groups throughout our vast land are helping to drive a just and considered switch away from the dated act of burning stuff to make electricity to smart, affordable and effective clean energy.


Video and sound producer Simon Duncan, from GreenEnergy Videos, has curated a dynamic snapshot of groups working in north-east Victoria to accelerate the transition to clean energy and do so in a way that strengthens their communities: to save money, boost local economies and help create a modern, smart renewables based electricity grid. His podcast is called Voices from the North East and has episodes on five local groups, including TRY and Indigo Power.


Why not enliven some of your unplanned spare time with the stories of passionate people working hard to usher in a new era of energy and which responds to climate change and a yearning for more people based energy systems. You can find the podcast via the link below:

Community Energy: Voices from the North East


Great work from Simon, and tireless community energy groups everywhere!

Simon Duncan is shown interviewing Ben McGowan with recording equipment
Simon Duncan (at right) also interviewed Ben McGowan for the episode on Indigo Power. Photo: Juliette Milbank

Community Energy Hub Launch

Great excitement was afoot in the Yackandandah Public Hall on Thursday night as the Yackandandah Community Energy Hub was launched!

TRY committee members, Indigo Power board members and Mondo representatives celebrate the product of all their hard work: a community energy hub!

A full house listened to Cathy McGowan AO, Cr Jenny O’Connor (Mayor of Indigo Shire), Matthew Charles-Jones (TRY Chairperson), Rod Jones (Manager, Distributed Energy Resources of Mondo) and Ben McGowan (Managing Director of Indigo Power) speak about the energy hub. Matt, Rod and Ben then took questions from the audience to further explain how it all worked.

Rod Jones from Mondo Power explains the technology behind the energy hub.

The Hub is the product of three years of hard work by TRY, Mondo and the newly formed Indigo Power. Most excitedly residents will now be able to trade locally generated renewable energy.

It is essentially a means by which energy can be traded within the region and consists of a competitive retail tariff and Indigo Power will return 50% of profits to clean energy and community projects in local towns.

This means that Indigo Power patrons generating excess solar will get paid for it via a feed-in tariff and their Indigo Power neighbours can purchase that power. Power that can’t be supplied locally is imported from the grid and is fully carbon offset. As community-scale storage and generation projects are added to the local mini-grid, more local energy will be available for trading, and it all contributes to the 2022 goal – 100% local renewable energy!

It was a full house for the launch of the Yackandandah Community Energy Hub at the Yackandandah Public Hall.

TRY are very pleased to have a very diverse range of contributors, ranging from business, state and local government, to make the energy hub a reality. If you’re a Yackandandah resident, you can get further information and sign up by going to www.indigopower.com.au.

And how about letting everyone know about this momentous Yack milestone – talk to your neighbours about the new retail offer, and if you can help spread the word around Yack via brochures or letterboxing, please email TRY at [email protected]

For those who live outside the Yackandandah boundaries, your turn is coming. Other hubs will be launched around the north-east Victorian region in early 2020 – watch this space for more news!

Launch of the Yackandandah virtual power plant

Representatives from the hall committees, TRY, Selectronic and Indigo Shire celebrated the launch of the VPP at the Yack Public Hall today

We had a terrific and intimate celebration in Yack today to flag the completion of 10 solar installations on public buildings, three of which have batteries.

After five years of sustained effort ten public buildings have a combined total of 74.8 kW of solar panels and 36 kWh of batteries, including the Public Hall, Sports Park, CFA, Museum, Masonic Hall, Health Service and the Osbornes Flat, Wooragee and Bruarong Halls, and the Indigo Valley CFA. These systems are all linked by the electricity grid and the Ubi smart energy controller, and soon also the community energy retailer, Indigo Power.

They form a series of small, distributed solar and battery installations
that are contributing renewable power to the grid around Yackandandah. Each on it’s own is not very large, but combined they contribute a significant amount to powering our town and act as a virtual power plant.

This project was made possible with inputs from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, plus: TRY, Indigo Shire, Into Our Hands Foundation, Various Hall Committees, YCDCo, Selectronic Australia, Indigo Power and the Yackandandah Folk Festival. Big support also from solar professionals, Solar Integrity.

Launching Kangaloola’s fantastic new battery system

Sponsors, TRY members and Chris Lehmann from Kangaloola celebrating the battery launch

We had a second little celebration today, this one a very quiet affair out at the Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter – to celebrate the completion of a fund raising push (and now installation) to double the size of the off-grid battery storage: from 16kWh to 32kWh to meet the expanding demand associated with more wildlife carers!

Amongst the sharing by funding contributors, we learnt that the system now saves over $9000/year in generator fuel. They also now run a water pressure pump and a mobile phone booster. And the gas boosted solar hot water system has shifted consumption from one 45kg gas bottle every 6 weeks to 1 every 12 months.

Cool outcomes!

Thanks to YCDCo, YCC, Solar Integrity and Indigo Speakers.

Check out TRY’s new Power to Change video

TRY has documented some of the inspiring motivations and actions for our 100% target. Check out the following two videos which show how far we’ve come in 5 years.

Part A: Helen and Denis tell their story


Yackandandah is full of many little amazing stories of energy transition. What happens when a household (and a town) becomes conscious about  energy? Welcome to Part A of a renewable energy makeover with Helen and Denis… filmed in 2015 and goodness how time travels so mighty quick.

The Power to Change video – Part A: Beginning a home energy transformation

Part B-1: Helen and Denis monitor their household energy generation and use

Four years later the town is well on the way with their ambitious renewable energy target. Catch up with Helen and Denis, and the village, on their calm and creative transition to clean local power and their desire to be part of a change for the world. Guest contributions from Rock Legend, Shane  Howard.

The Power to Change video – Part B

TRY’s NEW Energy Coaching service!

Our energy coaches can help you work out how to save energy

Keen to do more in your home to reduce your carbon footprint? Not sure where to start? Did you know that heating, cooling and water heating generally account for more than 60% of household energy consumption. Small changes in these areas can make a big difference.

To help understand what you can do, TRY is launching our new Energy Coaching service. Volunteer Energy Coaches will be available for one-on-one home visits to chat to you about options for reducing your energy consumption.

If you would like to know more about this service please check out the  Energy Coaching page under Resources in the menu above, or contact Donna Jones on 0428 423 072.

Public Hall solar and battery installation comes online

The solar panels on the Yackandandah Public Hall

Happy days for the Yack Public Hall after 5 years of concerted effort. The hall now has 11 kW of solar PV, and a premium SP Pro battery inverter, paired with 10 kWh of battery storage.

Big thanks to the Vic Government, Yack Folk Festival, Indigo Shire, Selectronic Australia and the Hall Committee. Award winning Solar Integrity employee, Luke Fraser, pictured here leading the awesome installation team.

Luke Fraser installing the inverters and battery system inside the hall

This installation is part of our virtual power plant (VPP), connected via the Mondo Ubi, and further building up our mini-grid. And what an awesome late winters day to start crafting home brewed power.

Clean Energy Council Awards 2019

On July 30, Mondo won the Clean Energy Council’s prestigious Community Engagement Award for their partnership with TRY. The award recognises the commitment displayed by both parties in the pursuit of 100% clean renewable electricity. The journey reached a significant milestone in February this year when Yackandandah’s mini grid collectively generated 1GWh of renewable electricity. This accounts for approximately 25% of the town’s energy sourced from the sun and represents $160,000+ in community energy cost savings.

Bobbi McKibbin (Solar Integrity), Matthew Charles-Jones (TRY) and Cathy McGowan (Former Independent Member for Indi) at the CEC awards night.

Mondo thanks everyone in Yackandandah, in particular the commitment and courage shown by everyone who purchased an energy system with them. This is particularly the case for people who have participated in the micro grids at both Yackandandah Heights on Racecourse Road and for those in the Osbornes Flat/Ben Valley communities.  Thanks also go to Solar Integrity, the partnering solar installer, who have been a significant contributor to the work.

Further success was also evident with AusNet Services winning the Clean Energy Council’s Innovation Award.  That award recognised the nationally relevant ARENA-funded research by the University of New South Wales with the 14-household micro grid in Osbornes Flat/Ben Valley.

Congratulations to Mondo and AusNet Services, and Solar Integrity and a shout out to a massive range of people in Yack. TRY feels a little proud, humble and thankful. Big on clean energy with local people (and planet) at the heart!