Author Archives: Barb Moss

Trawool Pumped Hydro Electric Storage Update.

19 September. Bob Brown attended a “Climate Change Innovation Market Place Event” in Shepparton. The State Government through DELWP was introducing a new source of funding called the Climate Change Innovation Grants, offering $50 to $300K for co-operative projects that reduced greenhouse emissions and adapted to climate change.

September. Nathan Epp of Goulburn Valley Water made a presentation about the Trawool and Strathbogie schemes to the Intelligent Water Network. IWN is a consortium of VicWater, 18 Victorian water authorities and DELWP to investigate new technologies and innovations to meet common challenges. As a result Michael Wheelahan of DELWP and Andrea Pogue of Goulburn Murray Water were appointed to pursue the projects on behalf of IWN.

26 October. John and Jeff  attended an invitation only Roundtable at Shepparton organised by Peter Hansford of DELWP. They made a 5-minute description of the Trawool project to 250 business people, engineers, etc. expressing our need for a partner. Several organisations have since expressed interest, mainly offering their services.

Peter, John, Bob and Jeff and Euroa reps. have had meetings with Michael and Andrea in which it was decided to apply for funding from the Climate Change Fund. Bob, Jeff, Shirley and Andrea attended a meeting at Wangaratta with the Hume Region team Eloise Seymour and Chelsea Cherry, to discuss the criteria for the application. Work is continuing on the application, which is due on 30 November.

Jeff Wilmot – Secretary Mitchell Community Energy

Campaigns: Live Animal Exports from Brazil

Live animals exports has been a disturbing topic for many years. The stress on land-based  animals shipped across oceans, to a death too often by cruel means and without any compassion for a stressed gets people very emotional. But it continues, and just doesn’t need to exist as a trade.

Brazil has recently announced plans to increase live cattle exports five-fold, and is meeting with opposition from Animals International to highlight the cruelty of animal exports, from Brazil and Australia alike. Continue reading

Mitchell Community Energy

On Thursday 12th October, Mitchell Community Energy Inc. was inaugurated.  This is a big step forward.

The Sustainable Seymour workshops expressed a keen interest in developing community energy projects in Seymour.  We now have at least one very good solar energy project at the SSAC ready to go, a larger pumped-hydro-electricity project at Trawool that we are developing through a series of feasibility studies, and many other ideas.  There is a growing body of information and support for communities seeking to develop community energy projects.

So a small group from the SS Network decided to set up the organisational structures to implement local projects.  Of the many alternatives, the group proposes to:

  1. Set up an incorporated, not-for-profit group – Mitchell Community Energy Inc. – as the vehicle for developing projects.
  2. Set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (a Community Company) to invest in the SSAC project at this stage. Investments will be available to members of MCE.  This will possibly be the model for other projects developed by Mitchell Community Energy Inc.

On 12th October, a meeting at Chittick Place in Seymour was attended by 17 people.  The meeting was well supported by the Council:  Cr Rob Eldridge chaired the meeting and the Mayor Cr Rhonda Sanderson. Cr David Atkinson and Cr Fiona Stevens and program leader Elyse Kelly also attended.  The meeting voted to set up Mitchell Community Energy Inc, and also voted on the Purpose and Rules for the association.  The Purpose of the association is:

To reduce the generation of greenhouse gases in the Mitchell Shire community and develop a greater awareness of climate change issues through a community-based organization that will:

  1. Secure funding from within the communityand elsewhere to undertake renewable energy and energy conservation projects.
  2. Build community participation, empowerment and pride by working together on those projects.
  3. Strengthen the local economy by using local enterprises and labourand capital.
  4. Keep the funds generated by savings in power costs within the community.
  5. Ensure that all members of the community have opportunities to benefit from the projects.

Finally, the meeting nominated Peter Lockyer as President, Jeff Wilmot as Secretary and John Thompson as Treasurer, plus Irene Telford,  Bob Brown and Carol Tullett as committee members.

The new group welcomes memberships and participation.

How to join Mitchell Community Energy Inc.:  Details to follow shortly

 

 

The BEAM AGM was a big success

Did someone say we should have AGMs more often?

BEAM successfully held its 2017 Annual General Meeting in Seymour on Saturday night of 16th September.  Our guest speaker Gavin Ashley from Moreland Energy Foundation spoke about the how a group like the Foundation might get going and about the many benefits of community ownership of renewable energy.  His talk was followed by a worshop on new ideas for BEAM in 2017-18, the formalities of an AGM and election of the new committee. Continue reading

Press Release: BEAM welcomes VRET

Legislation for the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) passed the lower house of Victorian Parliament last week, thanks to votes from Labor, the Greens and independent Suzanna Sheed.  This moves us one step closer to a future with more clean energy, driving a construction boom of wind and solar projects across the state.  Pumped Hydro Energy Storage will invariably join this push.  It also underscores direct action in Victoria to act on the environment and the economy that grows from such action.

However, Matthew Guy’s Liberal/National Coalition voted against the VRET and pledged to repeal it.  On top of that, they floated the possibility of another polluting coal-burning power station in Victoria! They are out of touch.

By Webaware – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=104929

BEAM Mitchell Environment Group finds the position of the Victorian Coalition on the VRET reprehensible.  Coal has a diminishing role in our energy future- even the coal companies are saying this- and there is no investment appetite for new coal, or even maintaining old coal-fired power stations.  In contrast, the appetite for investing in a whole range of renewable energies and storage is strong, and increasing.  Government certainty is crucial for this investment environment to reach its potential.

The Coalition must surely know the VRET will reduce Victoria’s climate pollution, increase our energy supplies, create jobs and even push down power prices.  The only reason to oppose it is to slow the transition away from polluting coal power.

These attacks by the Coalition (the coal-ition) are ideological and out of touch with the challenges to Victoria.  They threaten the certainty of the renewable energy industry and our best chance at rapidly cutting climate pollutionThis should be an issue for bipartisanship in Victoria, and nationally.  Investment in renewable technology is a priority.  The private market acknowledges this reality, but it would be more secure with a bipartisan VRET.

Sustainability Victoria recently conducted a study “Climate Change Social Research” into community attitudes on climate change, and their expectations on who should be acting on this.  The results were very strong in acknowledging we all have a role to play, government and local communities.

BEAM invites our own local member Steph Ryan to champion this action and its investment future.  It will benefit rural Victoria.

Peter Lockyer, President BEAM Mitchell Environment Group.             Sept 23 2017

Seymour Structure Plan out for public consultation

A draft of the Seymour Structure Plan will be available for public comment and feedback for six weeks from 31st July to 11th September.  A draft of the Seymour Structure Plan was presented to the Mitchell Shire Councillors for a vote on June 19th.  However, the Councillors wanted more time to review the plan and incorporate some changes and finally endorsed the Draft Seymour Structure Plan to go out on public consultation on 17th July – a good sign that the Councillors are taking their responsibilities very seriously.

Drop in sessions will take place at Chittick Place, Seymour Sports & Aquatic Centre, on:

  • Thursday 3rd August 2pm – 8pm
  • Tuesday 15th August 2pm – 8pm
  • Wednesday 23rd August 10.30am – 4.30pm
  • Thursday 7th September 2pm – 8pm

Documentation will soon be available on the Seymour 3660 website www.seymour3660.com.au.

Sustainable Seymour Network members will be preparing submissions on the plan.  If you have any comments on the Plan, please forward them to Council and also to Peter Mitchell so they can also be considered and added to our submissions.

Planting Day completes a Broadford link started by BEAM in 1990

 

On Sunday 18th June, Broadford Land Management Group (BLMG) organised a planting day to complete the parkland link through Whiteman’s Reserve between Wandong Road and Sunday Creek begun in 1990.  31 people came to the planting day including members of Sunday Creek/Dry Creek Landcare Group and the 1st Broadford Scouts.  600 trees, shrubs, sedges and tussock grasses were planted.

Planting at the “new” Whiteman’s Reserve was one of the first activities of the newly formed Broadford Environmental Action Movement (later BEAM Mitchell Environment Group) in 1990 (see Broadford Community News August 1990 below).  Bob Tomkins, a long-term member of the group, says that this corridor was part of a larger vision for wildlife corridors and walking trails proposed by Dr Colin Officer and other members of BEAM in 1995.

The project aimed to turn a drainage reserve full of weeds and piles of dredgings into an attractive parkland of native vegetation, with links between the golf course to Sunday Creek and downstream to Davidson Street.  Funding has come from Mitchell Shire Council and more recently from a Goulburn Broken CMA Regional Riparian Action Plan Grant to complete the planting in Whiteman’s Reserve and replace the masses of woody weeds along Sunday Creek downstream to Broadford.

Many working bees later, and with great support from Mitchell Shire Council’s Environmental Programs staff, Whiteman’s Reserve is now a very attractive route for walkers in Broadford and a safe corridor for wildlife.

If you want to see a Powerpoint walk down the Reserve and listen to Lee McKenzie, President of BLMG, talking to Mark Perrott from Mitchell Community Radio (OKRFM at 98.3 Kilmore and 97.1FM in Wallan) during the planting day, please contact the Secretary of BLMG at mitchell.moss@iinet.net.au.  (Apologies to those without Powerpoint – and please suggest an alternative format that is not 100MB in Youtube or similarly large file size).

From Broadford “Community News” Volume 2 No. 4 August 1990 Continue reading

Sustainable Seymour update 2nd March 2017

We posted a Sustainable Seymour update on the BEAM website a few weeks ago – see http://www.beam.org.au/post/sustainable-seymour-projects-on-the-go/.  Since then, there has been little direct progress but lots of excitement from the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne and announcements from the State Government.

Update on projects

The feasibility studies for pumped hydro and Chittick Park are still in progress and we hope to have some preliminary results very soon.  The Seymour Structure Plan is getting closer – latest information is that it will go to Council around April and will then be released for public comment – but don’t sharpen your pencils quite yet.  We will resume our discussion workshop when we have something to bring to the table on these projects.

Community Energy Congress, Melbourne, 27 &28 February

Jeff Wilmot, Marie Gerard and Peter Mitchell attended the congress on behalf of BEAM.  Jeff was sponsored by Sustainability Victoria, and Marie and Peter were sponsored by Mitchell Shire Council – many thanks to those organisations.  Also present were Elyse Kelly (Environmental Programs Coordinator, Mitchell Shire Council), Malcolm Green (also part of the Sustainable Seymour network), Shirley Saywell, Andi Kofler and others from Euroa Environment Group (our partners in the Pumped Hydro Project), Geoff Lodge from Goulburn Valley Community Energy, Tom Brown from Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance (we plan to meet with Tom in April), and more than 450 other people from around Australia and overseas.  There will be more information from the Congress that we will share with you as it comes in, but below are our initial reports:

My interest in attending was to explore ways that we could go from feasibility studies to fully funded and well managed projects.  For example, groups setting up projects need to have contracts with funders (who may be donors or investors), with owners of sites for the solar panels, with suppliers and installers, and with purchasers of the electricity.  To assist groups like us, Frontier Impact Group have developed a Behind the Meter Solar PV Funding Guidebook (see https://www.frontierimpact.com.au/resources).  ClearSky Solar Investments (http://www.clearskysolar.com.au/) can match investors with investors;  they cite returns of 6-8% for investors so solar is a good bet.  Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Asutralia (CORENA – see https://corenafund.org.au/) work on a donation system for renewable energy projects.  All these groups are not-for-profit.- and that’s just the start.  So lots of choices for the future – and a lot more to think about.

I also attended an Action Planning session on solar gardens, and came away with the impression that there are no significant legal barriers to setting up virtual power networks (although the hope for a lower tariff for local use of the existing powerline network has not been approved).  Another aspect in the discussions was equity – a key theme of the Congress in general.  Local networks can be used to share the bounty provided by the sun between those with solar panels and those who – for whatever reason – cannot install solar panels.

So lots of possibilities and lots of groups that can help us make it happen.

Peter

The first session on the second day was called “Action Planning” in which participants could put up topics for discussion and action.  Curious about what interest there might be in the technology, I suggested pumped hydro electricity storage as a topic. Thirty people came to the session, including Shirley and Andi. Elyse kept notes on the discussion and will type them up. Members of the group came from all over south-east Australia, from Mullumbimbi in northern NSW to Kangaroo Island. Some already had ideas for projects.  At Mullumbimbi they want to make use of an existing mini-hydro generator, at Bendigo they want to use old mine shafts and in Gippsland they want to use the pit and pondage when Hazlewood power station shuts down.

 The resulting action was to set up an interest group to share data and progress.  One member of the group is making a submission on the subject to the Federal government’s Finkel Review into the National Energy Market.

Jeff

We were interviewed during the conference – for an exciting broadcast, go to fuzzylogicon2xx.podbean.com/e/energising-the-community/ and find the speaker bar.  Our segment begins at 16:55 minutes.

News from the State Government

Feed-in Tariffs have been raised from 5 cents to 11.5 cents. 

See http://delwp.vic.gov.au/energy/electricity/victorian-feed-in-tariff.  This is very welcome for people who want to encourage renewable energy.  But there has been some concern, in particular about the possible higher prices imposed on households without the capacity to install solar panels.  The opposition is planning to block the legislation, but there are many other better options that could make this a win-win for communities such as Seymour.

Victoria now has stronger laws to combat climate change.

Environment Victoria passed on the information that the Victorian parliament passed into law a new Victorian Climate Change Act on 23rd February.  It’s a significant step forward. The Act establishes the framework for eliminating greenhouse pollution in Victoria over coming decades.  In particular, the Act:

  • Establishes a target of net zero climate pollution by 2050
  • Requires five-yearly interim emissions targets from 2020 onwards
  • Improves accountability and transparency on efforts to cut emissions
  • Ensures all arms of government are factoring climate change impacts and emissions reductions into their decision-making and policy setting.

Legislating targets to get to zero emissions means that every investment and government decision made from here on needs to consider how it helps the state eradicate greenhouse pollution.

We congratulate the State Government for taking these two big steps towards a low carbon economy.