Election ’13: Community groups call on Labor, Coalition to back $50m community energy fund

1011423_284837728323000_732508043_nDozens of community groups from around Australia have joined national environment organisations to publish an open letter calling on Labor and the Coalition to commit to a $50 million fund for community energy projects.

The open letter, addressed to the minister for climate change, Mark Butler (ALP) and shadow minister for climate change, Greg Hunt (Coalition), calls on both major parties to lock in their support the emerging community energy sector.

The campaign believes politicians risk killing off the infant community renewable energy sector if they fail to establish a multi-million dollar fund.

“Like any new sector, community-owned renewables are growing quickly and will need short-term support to succeed,” said Nicky Ison, spokesperson for the Fund Community Energy campaign.

“Over 40 communities across Australia are developing community-owned wind and solar projects, but only two are up and running. If the other 38 groups don’t receive start-up assistance soon, they risk dying on the vine,” added Miss Ison.

The Fund Community Energy campaign commissioned Marsden Jacob Associates to conduct economic modelling on the proposal. It demonstrates a grant fund can unleash hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in community-owned energy projects.

“A $50 million fund will shepherd at least 150 projects from inception to the investment-ready stage over the next four years. If these projects come to fruition they will unlock over $825 million worth of investment in communities around Australia,” explains Nicky Ison. “Every dollar of public investment in community energy unleashes over $15 worth of investment in local economies.”

In May, the NSW government launched a $411,000 grant fund to kick-start community energy projects in that state. Leadership from a Liberal premier shows that all political parties can support the community energy sector.

“Community-owned renewable energy projects are something all Australian politicians can support–whether they’re affiliated with Labor, the Coalition, or The Greens,” said Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth’s Yes 2 Renewables initiative. “The campaign is looking forward to Mark Butler and Greg Hunt’s response.”

TAKE ACTION:

Today is a national day of action to support community-owned renewable energy projects. You can show your support by:

  1. Posting a message on Mark Butler and Greg Hunt‘s Facebook walls.
  2. Tweeting Mark Butler and Greg Hunt asking them to respond to the open letter.
  3. Contacting the minister for climate change and shadow minister directly. Mark Butler can be reached at Mark.butler.mp@aph.gov.au and (08) 8242 0733. Greg Hunt can be reached on Greg.hunt.mp@aph.gov.au and (03) 5979 3188.
  4. Signing the Fund Community Energy Petition – www.fundcommunityenergy.org/
  5. Sharing this post with your friends and family.

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