A conversation with Tim Flannery

In September, members of Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) Matt Grogan and Tamsin Greenwood met with Professor Tim Flannery, the chief councillor of the Climate Council, prior to his talk at Albury’s 2015 Write Around the Murray festival. They discussed all things environmental as well as TRY’s goal to have Yackandandah completely powered by renewable energy by 2022. Tim supports TRY’s goal and is looking forward to seeing more towns in Australia follow Yackandandah’s lead.

For further information, click on the links. The ABC has written an article and posted the audio of Melanie Tait’s interview with Tim at the Write Around the Murray Festival. The Yackity Yak also wrote about Tim’s visit.

Yackandandah Steps into a brighter future: Community Sustainable Energy Project

Rethinking electricity use is a key initiative for the proactive management team of Yackandandah Health as they announce the launch of a program incorporating dramatic reductions in their power demands and the installation of 90kW solar panels.

Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY), a community group aiming to switch Yackandandah to be 100% renewable by 2022, is partnering Yackandandah Health in this innovative energy venture.

Health Service Chief Executive,  Annette Nuck is very excited to be introducing this new energy program.  “We looked at the finances for the efficiency and generation plan and it made strong economic sense for our community owned, not-for-profit organisation. At Yackandandah Health we use power consistently and predictably. So it has been relatively easy to map savings and to determine the optimal photovoltaic installation capacity,” explained Ms Nuck. “But we are also mindful of the critical importance of reducing our carbon footprint, and at the same time working with the local community to achieve the 100% renewable aspiration. The solar installation is part of a broader program at Yackandandah Health where we are looking at making our organisation more environmentally aware and lessening our footprint.  We are considering all activities on-site with the aim to decrease waste and our impact on the environment and hope others follow our lead”.

Paying back the initial cost of the solar installation is calculated to take only five years and offer an anticipated carbon emission reduction of more than 200 tonnes annually.  The panels will generate an equivalent amount of electricity to power fifteen average Victorian homes.

TRY is assisting Yackandandah Health to raise capital for the energy program.  Using a combination of crowd sourcing campaign named Totally Renewable Yackandandah Perpetual Energy Fund and an enthusiastic local fund raising program, TRY is aiming to raise $60,000 as a loan to the Health Service.  This loan will be repaid to TRY using savings in Yackandandah Health’s electricity bills.  The repaid capital will then be reinvested in TRY’s Perpetual Energy Fund to enable community energy projects around Yackandandah.

TRY President, Matthew Grogan said yesterday “The pioneering heritage of the Yackandandah Bush Nursing Hospital, (now Yackandandah Health), fits neatly with TRY’s aspirations with energy reinvention.”

“TRY is thrilled that the health service is helping to lead the way in local energy thinking and it will save money, stabilise the supply of electricity and respond to our collective need to reduce carbon emissions.”

Community initiatives in Yackandandah already include photovoltaic installations at the Council office and depot, the Primary School, the community owned petrol station, the Kindergarten, the Community Centre, the Museum and the newly built stand-alone power supply on the Men’s Shed. This 90kW Yackandandah Health installation fits nicely into the rapidly evolving community energy transformation.

To donate funds to the Totally Renewable Yackandandah Perpetual Energy Fund please go to the TRY  crowd funding link at https://chuffed.org/project/totally-renewable-yackandandah-perpetual-energy-fund or TRY’s webpage http://totallyrenewableyack.org.au

 

For further information contact Matt Grogan, President of Totally Renewable Yackandandah – 0428 529 705

TRY Inaugural AGM – 7th July 2015

The Totally Renewable Yackandandah Inaugural Annual General Meeting took place on the 7th of July. Have a look at our President’s Report below to see our upcoming plans.

 

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(Inaugural) Annual General Meeting – President Report

Tuesday, 7th July 2015

Overview

Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) is a community energy group which formed in April 2014 following a community energy forum hosted by Indigo Shire Council. TRY has set a goal for the town and surrounding communities to become reliant on 100% renewable electricity by the year 2022.

TRY became an incorporated association on the 18th of July, 2015.

Across Australia, there are at least 50 community energy groups working in their areas to improve energy efficiency, decrease carbon emissions and to promote the community development potential of distributed energy generation.

Membership and Committee Activity

Currently, there are 14 active members of TRY and a mailing list of an additional 34 people. Since conception, a monthly meeting has been conducted with additional meetings to address specific projects and working group activities. Membership is currently open to all members of the Yackandandah area community.

  • Matt Grogan (Joint President )
  • Ali Pockley (Secretary)
  • Matthew Charles-Jones (Joint President)

Financial Report

Please find tabled the financial report since the establishment of TRY. To be discussed by the Committee Secretary, Ms. Ali Pockley.

TRY Purpose and Strategic Planning

TRY Purpose

These functions have been described to achieve a range of outcomes and here listed in no defined order of priority:

  • Decentralise the supply of electricity to strengthen grid performance and resilience;
  • Localise ownership of the supply of electricity to enhance local investment / community development; and
  • Decarbonise the supply of electricity.

The committee held a strategy-planning meeting on the 2nd of February 2015, which was kindly facilitated by Mr. Mark McKenzie McHarg. Efforts continue to prepare a holistic, cohesive and inclusive strategy for TRY.

Broadly speaking, this apolitical strategy defines the following key activities for TRY:

  • Help the community of Yackandandah re-imagine a clean energy supply;
  • Promote energy efficiency across our community;
  • Support the uptake of green power;
  • Assist households to adopt rooftop generation and storage;
  • Establish community level projects to support large users, low income and rental households.

Key Successes for TRY

Appearance in local, state and national media.

The 100% goal appears to have captured the attention of a wide variety of people across Australia, including media. This attention includes a variety of appearances in The Border Mail, Goulburn Murray Radio (ABC), online renewable journal RenewEconomy and Climate Spectator as well as notable appearances in the pages of large social media sites. Also, in celebration of the success of the Men’s Shed in installing a standalone power supply, Yackandandah appeared in a sizeable article in the Saturday Age in June this year.

Public Launch

In November, 2014 TRY held a public launch at Yackandandah Community Centre. About 120 people attended this hopeful gathering and there was much interest in the goal and what activities would emerge from the group – and our town.

Individual Rooftop Installations

As planned, TRY is aware of at least 10 additional solar installations that are the direct result of the 100% goal being articulated. The goal has helped these households shift from a positive intention to action. It seems likely there are many more than these ten and to demonstrate, data from the photovoltaic institute of Australia suggests the postcode of Yackandandah is now showing at least 33% of rooftops having solar installations – against a national average of about 14%.

Electronic Surveys and In-depth Interviews

In late 2014, TRY asked people to respond to an online survey using Survey Monkey. This survey invited households to describe specific measures to improve energy efficiency, steps to adopt renewable energy and support for the goals of TRY. 108 households responded, with 73% of respondents supportive of the 100% ambitions.

TRY also was successful in winning a Community Lead Research Grant from Charles Sturt University. This grant, worth $2250, allows for a community group to study an area of strategic local interest. In Yackandandah this funding has provided for local woman, Ms Leah Ginnivan, (and colleague Mr. Tom Stayner) to conduct 26 in depth interviews across a spectrum of community members in Yackandandah to determine their views on community energy, TRY and ways forward. The results are being finalised and will be published within the next four weeks. Early indications are that there is a high level of support for the goal and that people are keen to understand how they can participate. Moreover, the interviews helped to generate more interest in the TRY project, to re-imagine the supply of electricity.

Chamber of Commerce Funding

After several representations to the Chamber of Commerce and Indigo Shire Council, TRY has been successful in winning $10,000 from the Yackandandah Chamber of Commerce. These funds are specifically available to use as seed funding to attract larger investment to prepare an energy blueprint for Yackandandah. An energy blueprint will describe a technical and financial strategy for our township and build on the limited ‘time and expertise’ capacity of the TRY committee.

It is anticipated that additional funds will likely be available through the Victorian Governments, New Energy Fund, but we await announcements as to how this will be publically offered.

Door Knocking

In June, TRY committee members commenced a project to visit every household in Yackandandah (and in other main settlements around Yack). The goal is to build personal support and understanding about what is being proposed. So far reception has been overwhelmingly positive and so far 93% of households indicating they are supportive of the 100% ambition. Results will be released locally as they emerge.

At the same time, a free energy audit was being offered to visited households. These are to commence this coming weekend.

Public Interest

Of most important note is the extent to which TRY has captured a yearning across Australia amongst local communities, not-for-profits, and even mainstream political committees to implement a 21st century approach to the supply of electricity. TRY is frequently invited to speak at forums, community groups and formal committee meetings to describe our goals, successes and methods. The 100% goal is shared by at least 5 other communities across Australia, and it seems likely that many more will step forward as the diverse benefits to local people, economies and the natural world are understood.