Totally Renewable Yackandandah – TRY – is a NE Victorian grassroots community organisation aiming to to produce more electricity than it uses, by 2022. The group is proud to be ‘doing something visionary’. Economist Dr John Hewson who these days has a commitment to
‘investigating and embracing dramatic cuts in energy use and a rapid transition to renewable energy’
spoke at the TRY fundraiser in April this year.
For a small town, Yackandandah is showing huge community resolve in making decisions regarding its future needs at a time when Australia is enduring full-on politicking with little vision or leadership in the face of many critical issues.
Back in 2001 when the only service station in town was proposing closure, the residents formed the Yackandandah Community Development Company (YCDCo) which bought out the business. Thriving under community-ownership, the coop now sells hardware and farm supplies, has a large solar photovoltaic array, funded in part by the local folk festival, and turns over $3 million annually. YCDCo also hands out $20,000 in local grants every year.
You can read Social Traders‘ Case Study of YCDCo here.
TRY was formed at the beginning of 2014 as a result of a community energy forum in Yackandandah, organised by Indigo Shire Council. It aims to achieve ‘energy sovereignty’ for the town by 2022 and is driven by concern over climate change, but also – as with the petrol station – by a desire to strengthen the local economy.
In February this year YHS was connected to a 90kW solar-panel system which will save the community-owned service $1 million over the next 25 years and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 115 tonnes annually – the equivalent of taking 23 cars permanently off the road.
Saving money on power while reducing pollution will alleviate threats to public health and spending less on energy means more can be spent on health care.
Improvements to air conditioning and hot water systems, as well as a broader goal to reduce waste across the health facility is currently being modelled.
TRY has raised $5000 which will be loaned for the energy efficiency improvements. Again, this loan will be repaid with savings in power bills and when paid back, will be ploughed back into other community energy programs.
TRY’s Matthew Charles-Jones says they’re surveying local residents and working on the grand plan, with the help of a council grant.
3 Australian towns aim to become 100 per cent renewable.
Newstead was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the state government to develop its plan.
Nicky Ison, director of Community Power Agency, says:
“The technology is the easy part. For larger-scale renewable energy schemes, however, funding remains a challenge. That means starting small and growing.
Towns first need to do widespread energy efficiency campaigns, and look at household, business and community solar.”
In Yackandandah, the old brick veneer community centre has set the example. With the help of a state government grant, local tradies have installed a large solar photovoltaic system, insulation, double-glazing, shading and efficient air conditioners for heating and cooling. Electricity bills have dropped by three-quarters.
Inspirational! More communities will do this, leaving Canberra…where?