Community battery webinar now available

In Australia, there is currently considerable interest in community batteries, and a number of installations are now providing initial results. Community batteries can provide benefits to individual customers and to the network services, and are likely to encourage more solar installations on homes.

Mitchell Community Energy conducted a webinar on 31st August that brought together national experts to explain how community batteries work, where they have been installed or planned, models of ownership and management, and the economic and social benefits and costs of providing and operating them. It was an important webinar for communities across Australia at this time of rapid change in our energy system.

Speakers were:

  Revana Boodhraj,  Senior Business Analyst, Western Power

  Dr Marnie Shaw,  Research Leader, Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program, ANU

  Justin Harding,  Manager, Network Growth, Ausnet Services

  Ben McGowan,  Managing Director, Indigo Power

A recording of the webinar is available here,  Passcode: 1+b$CDv4

National Webinar on community batteries

Community batteries – what are the prospects for your community?

Community batteries are being rolled out in Western Australia with the aim of improving the performance of the power grid, reducing energy costs for the community, and encouraging increased uptake of solar systems on homes.

Mitchell Community Energy (MCE) is conducting a national webinar on community batteries to explore their potential elsewhere in Australia.  The webinar will be held on 31st August at 2.00 pm Melbourne time

The webinar will feature experts from Western Power in WA, Australian National University, Ausnet Services and Indigo Power.

President of Mitchell Community Energy, Peter Lockyer, said that community batteries appeared to be a promising opportunity for rural and regional areas in particular. He hoped that towns in Mitchell Shire could be provided with this technology.

“We are especially keen to also explore how this technology can address social equity issues by making renewable energy more accessible to low income people. Further, Community Batteries appear to be a valuable asset in stabilising renewable energy contributions to the grid.”

For more details and instructions on joining the webinar, go to

Farmers for Climate Action

Farmers for Climate Action is an inclusive movement of farmers and rural Australians who are leading the way on climate solutions and sustainable food productive systems.

EarthChat (103.9FM on Friday August 7th) had the privilege of talking at some length with Anika Molesworth, a creative mind and 2015 Young Farmer of the Year, and a foundation member and current Board member of Farmers for Climate Action.  If you missed EarthChat with Anika on August 7th, read more below:

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Proposed Logging in the Tallarook State Forest

Recent information from our friends in WOTCH (Wildlife of the Central Highlands) suggests that VicForests propose to log sections of the Tallarook State Forest in the near future. A map of the area, as we understand it, is attached below.

BEAM is alarmed at this proposition on a number of fronts

  • VicForests has a shameful record in forest management, failing to meet FSC standards consistently.  [Bunnings recently banned the sales of VicForest timber for this reason];
  • Logging native forests may well cease by 2030, so this appears a “6 o’clock swill” effort to cull as much forest as possible, unnecessarily;
  • The quality of the forest trees as timber in the Tallarook State Forest is poor. The forest generally is not of saw log size, so clear felling may well produce wood for pulp only. Are we to accept the clear-felling of the Tallarook Forest, and all of its non-forestry values, for just paper pulp? Seriously, when existing forest areas are so valuable in carbon draw down, and Victoria prides itself on its climate change action commitments?
  • VicForests got an $18million grant last year to clean up its act, and only returned a $2million profit as we understand. If this was a private business not subsidised by the taxpayer, it would have folded years ago. Victoria can’t afford to be propping up a “basket case business” like this when so many decent businesses must remain closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It doesn’t stack up. VicForests is a decades-old festering sore that continues as an environmental flashpoint across this State.
  • The small tree size and consequent low timber value must be weighed against the benefits of a standing forest– habitat for wildlife in the air and on the ground, carbon draw down, educational value and recreational value. This is a popular forest for walking, camping, cycling (with or without engines) and hunting. A clear-felled area provides none of these.
  • The Tallarook State Forest contains several threatened species listed in the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, including the vulnerable Powerful Owl and Southern Greater Glider. In this time of extinction crisis, it is likely that the Forest contains many other species not yet recorded in the forest or listed as threatened. This north-west island of mountain forest is a significant link for species moving between the plains and the Great Dividing Range.
  • There are important jobs in the timber industry. The jobs in plantation timber are secure. The jobs in native forest logging, however, are comparatively few and disappearing, but there are  a lot of jobs in recreational tourism threatened when native forests are diminished.

BEAM calls on all of our respected local members, to intervene and stop this proposed logging.

Even if there were no endangered species in the forest, the standing forest has far more value than subsidised clear-felling and the environmental disaster that ensues for so many years.    Mitchell Shire could better use the funds that subsidise VicForests in the destruction of our forests for a financial loss. As a triple bottom line analysis, the demand that we must make post-Covid, this proposal is a loss on all three accounts.

It should NOT proceed, and we ask for their active support to save our forests.

Peter Lockyer, President

Aerial photo showing the proposed logging coupes (outlined in red) in the headwaters of Trawool Reservoir.

Close-up photo of Trawool Reservoir showing previous logging coupes to the west of the reservoir

Damian Drum awaits your letter

Feeling like a challenge in challenging times?            C’mon, seize the day              and                             RATTLE YOUR PEN, or at least the keyboard.

Write to your Federal member for Nicholls…. Damian Drum MP


And enlighten him on your views about how we might emerge stronger from Covid-19

The BEAM president did on June 8….complete with a forwarded email from Helen Haines (Indi MP) about the Community Energy Plan that she is building for regional Australia, with broad community input (see below).

Damian and staff,

THIS is the type of action and direction that has appeal for the challenges for rural and regional Australia.

THIS is an opportunity for the Nationals to join the 21st century and the post Covid opportunities that can excite about the future.

THIS is an approach for Nicholls electorate that I would like to see.

Whats to stop you, Damian, talking with Helen Haines and building some momentum on this. We need a different type of economy that responds to our environmental challenges, too often understated, and a net-zero carbon future.

I’d like a reply please.


Peter Lockyer

president BEAM Mitchell Environment Group.

And Damian did reply

Drum, Damian (MP)                                                              Tue, 7 Jul, 13:04


To be perfectly blunt, we have enough people pushing for renewables. You don’t need help from me, given that Australia is already leading the way with rooftop solar in a way no other country can compare with per capita.

If Helen has the time to hold community meetings about a plan, that’s great, I hope the plan she develops fits in with the Governments plans, otherwise her time will have been wasted.

Anyway, I am rapt that so much renewable power is being built in Australia and in Nicholls and also rapt with our recent report card on achieving our Paris emissions commitment.



Damian Drum MP
Federal Member for Nicholls and Nationals Chief Whip

But Damian’s response raises more questions than answers.  

Does he speak for you?

Is rooftop solar the limit to Drum’s interest in renewables? What about big wind and solar and batteries and a power future beyond coal? Damian Drum is distracted by gas (as he told PL on the phone), and he toes the party line. Is this good enough? What do you think?

Helen Haines “plan” for Community Energy must fit with the Government plans? Well, the Federal Government has NO energy policy, let alone policy on Community Energy and the value to regional communities of community-owned power. Helen Haines may indeed “write” the Federal policy! What about Policy over Politics, and team up with the neighbouring member in a bi-partisan spirit? There is so much potential here, but our Federal member shows disdain towards Independents (who are a real threat to The Nationals holding their seats. Any wonder why?) and can’t pick up the phone to build a partnership for regional Australia in the renewables, with jobs and investment at stake.

Will the Federal Government meet our Paris Emissions?  The Federal Government has a paltry 26-28% emissions reduction on 2005 figures as its target for 2030 in the Paris Agreement.                        In contrast, most Australian States have targets around 50% reductions by 2030, irrespective of their political stripes.

Brad Giblin is in Nicholls and he responded to this point of Damian Drum’s rapt with our scorecard

“Far from enough…

In the 2020 edition of the Sustainable Development Report, Australia’s score for “climate action” saw it rank second last, sitting 176th of 177 countries assessed, with oil and gas heavy Brunei the only country that received a worse score.”

Australia is the biggest exporter of fossil fuels globally. Are we comfortable with this?

Rattle your pen– it’s a strong way of making something of a lockdown. Can YOU get a reply from Damian too?

Contact Damian Drum MP, the member for Nicholls.


Telephone:          Office.   5821 5371         Mob.     0407 576 604

Post:                     426 Wyndham Street, Shepparton Vic 3630

BUT its hard to get a direct response from the member for Nicholls, Damian Drum.        You may be better off writing to a local newspaper, or any newspaper in Nicholls, and sending a copy to Damian’s office. You can be sure that his staff are trawling local opinion in Letters to the Editor.

Shepparton News.              

The Telegraph in Seymour.    

The Border Mail…Albury Wodonga.    


Country News (has a big insert in The Seymour Telegraph, and elsewhere in our region) gets into the North Central Review

In a recent video conference about making a difference in the climate change space,  ALP shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler stated that if you want to make an impact on policy in Canberra, you have to make a lot of noise.

Keeping low in lock-down…………. a great time to Make some Noise with your pen. Don’t waste a moment, and have some fun.

And keep safe whilst you do.

Peter Lockyer,  President BEAM Mitchel Environment Group Inc.

If you want an update on Helen Haines MP’s Renewable Energy Plan for regional Australia which has a link to the Discussion Paper

Petition to Mitchell Shire Council: Declare a Climate Emergency!

We acted on the fires.
We are acting on Covid-19.
We must act on the Climate Emergency!

We have just 10 years to keep Global Warming below 1.5 degrees.

Current local plans of zero emissions by 2050 will fall far short of this.   Globally, 1500 local and other governments, representing 820 million citizens in 30 countries have declared a Climate Emergency. In Australia, 84 local councils have declared a Climate Emergency. A Climate Emergency Plan will generate strategic local actions to reduce our emissions.

We call on Mitchell Shire Council to declare a Climate Emergency and plan to take bold actions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.

Sign the petition NOW

BEAM’s response to the EPBC Act Review

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is the key Federal legislation for the protection of the environment by the Federal Government. It is regularly reviewed, and the latest review is underway now (although this review may be pre-empted by the Government who want to reduce “green tape” likely to put business interests ahead of sound evidence-based conservation).

Peter Mitchell wrote on behalf of BEAM:

I am a retired ecologist still very busy working with Landcare, other environment groups and landholders in central Victoria. Many people in regional Victoria are caring for the natural environment on their land and in local reserves, using their own time and money with occasional funding from government.  Despite all the good work and intentions, we are seeing a huge decline in the natural environment.  Locally, trees are dying or culled and birds and insects are becoming less common.  In the past 50 year we have gone from The Great Extermination of the past described by Professor Jock Marshall to The Extinction Crisis announced and described in 2019.  Clearly the EPBC Act, along with other government programs, have failed us. 

Climate change has severely reduced the resilience of our natural world, with heat, droughts and bushfires over the past year pushing many species closer to extinction.  But we continue to wilfully destroy the environment.  Despite species decline and bushfires, Victoria has recently signed a 10 year modified Regional Forest Agreement with the Commonwealth;  other states have signed up for 20 years with little modification of agreements.  And, against the advice of scientists, post-fire logging is reducing the ability of our forests to recover from the severe bushfires.  Land clearing and chemical pest control for agriculture also continues, both on broad scales in Queensland and NSW, and through the extension of cropping and “death by a thousand cuts” in Victoria.  This is destroying the mosaics of farmlands with large old trees, bushlands and wetlands that have been helping to slow the “extinction debt” since the Great Extermination.  Massive urban growth around cities and regional towns is adding to the destruction. 

These are all Threatening Processes, and we need a strong EPBC Act to help reverse the current rapid decline of our biodiversity and natural ecosystems.