“Hepburn Shire is already a lighthouse community when it comes to community energy and it is fitting that the pilot Victorian program will occur here,” says Taryn Lane, who is leading the project on behalf of the Alternative Technology Association (ATA).
This reputation is due in no small part to Hepburn Wind, a co-operative that owns and runs a wind farm just outside Daylesford. The pioneering local enterprise has been generating clean power since 2011.
Now, a project team including ATA, Hepburn Shire Council, Moreland Energy Foundation, Hepburn Wind and other community energy organisations and local sustainability groups have partnered to work on a “roadmap” for achieving an even more ambitious goal—becoming carbon neutral.
To get there, the project team is looking at ways to both reduce local energy use and generate or import enough renewable energy to meet or exceed demand. The challenge is choosing a path that’s right for Hepburn.
As well as being technically feasible and financially viable, a transition plan needs community support. Residents in the area have been surveyed on their energy consumption and their views on renewables, to give the team a clearer picture of what’s possible.
If Hepburn succeeds in going 100 per cent renewable, the benefits won’t just be lower emissions and cheaper energy. There is potential to create jobs, grow the local economy and build resilience.
With the findings due to be shared later this year, Taryn hopes the Hepburn project will become an example for others to follow. “Having communities co-develop pathways to achieve zero-net emissions locally is an important model for regional Victoria.”
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