Mitchell Community Energy Update

Seymour Energy Project

Community Investment Invited

Mitchell Community Energy Inc. proposes to establish a co-operative to fund an exciting renewable energy project that will provide Mitchell Shire Council with significant on-going financial savings. You are invited to a meeting to form the co-operative, where you will hear about the project and the opportunity to invest in it. The investment opportunity offered will provide a very safe return better than bank interest. Various levels of investment will be available.

The meeting will be held at WineXSam, 69 Anzac Avenue, Seymour on Tuesday 18 September at 7.00 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and hear about this interesting venture. Enquiries: Jeff Wilmot 0477 054 666

 

PUMPED HYDRO ELECTRICITY STORAGE

This is our proposal to use the existing but unused Trawool Reservoir and the Goulburn River in a pumped hydro storage scheme. A pre-feasibility study carried out by the Melbourne Energy Institute and paid for by the Victorian Government’s New Energy Jobs Fund showed that the reservoir could store 36 MWh of energy which could generate 6 MW for 6 hours, would cost about $9,000,000 and return up to 7% based on arbitrage (buying power cheap and selling it dear). The Finkel review and the general urge for storage have  come since then.

Subsequent to that Nathan Epps, then of Goulburn Valley Water and now of Sustainability Victoria took the proposal to the Intelligent Water Network. IWN is a partnership of Vicwater, 18 Victoria water corporations and DELWP that explores new technologies to meet common challenges. They decided to adopt the scheme and appointed two members to follow it through, in particular our contact to be Andrea Pogue of Goulburn Murray Water.

Our next step is to have a full design and feasibility study leading to a business case that can be pitched to potential investors. IWN encouraged us to submit an application for that to the Victorian Government’s Climate Change Innovation Grants, with Goulburn Valley Water and IWN as partners. This was unsuccessful, but DELWP set up a “market place” for unsuccessful applicants at which we pitched our projects to potential investors.

A representative from ARENA suggested we apply there. Applicants to ARENA must match the amount applied for, so for us the full project is out of the question but we could perhaps match what ARENA calls a desk top study or report (approximating our business case). Potential partners could be IWN, GVW and DELWP. And following encouraging discussions with Infigen they might also be partners.

To make the application we need to have a realistic estimate of the cost and obtained the agreement and cooperation of partners.

SEYMOUR SPORTS AND AQUATIC CENTRE.

MCE and its predecessor Sustainability Seymour have been working with Mitchell Shire Council on a proposal to place photo-voltaic panels on the roof of SSAC.

A feasibility study done by Moreland Energy Foundation showed that an installation of 99kW would cost about $120,000 and pay for itself in about 5 years. Currently that cost would be much less.

MCE have proposed to Council that MCE invite the community to invest the necessary funds and loan them to Council to purchase and install the panels. This would provide Council with substantial power savings. Council would then receive the benefit of the reduced power costs and pay annually an interest on the loan which, after costs have been deducted, be paid on to the investors. It is anticipated that the return to the investors would be better that bank interest. Council would repay the principal at the end of the term of the loan, in say seven years. Negotiations are on-going.

MCE is in the process of forming the Mitchell Community Energy Co-operative Ltd. to manage the scheme.

Not only are we discussing the financial arrangements with Council but also advising them on the tendering process based on our recent experience in obtaining quotations for Karingal.

Council is keen to work generally with us on sustainability matters within the shire.

WHY A CO-OPERATIVE?

Mitchell Community Energy Inc. has been established to promote a variety of purposes associated with climate change – renewable energy, energy conservation community empowerment, etc. A more suitable vehicle, called a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), is required to manage community investment.

A model we used initially was a scheme developed in Lismore in NSW where two 99kW installations have been funded by community loans to Lismore City Council. In that case two SPVs were set up in the form of private companies. By law such private companies are limited to 20 shareholders, and they pay tax on their income.

We have decided to form a co-operative to be the SPV for the following reasons:

  • The number of shareholders is unlimited. This is consistent with our aim to share the benefits of climate change action as far as possible.
  • The number of projects that can be financed is also unlimited.
  • It is easy to set up.
  • Costs are minimal.
  • A co-operative also pays tax, but the payments to the shareholders are deductible so there being no profit, tax is effectively zero.

The draft Rules and Disclosure Statement are now with Consumer Affairs Victoria for approval and we have set the date for the formation meeting as 18 September at WineXSam at 7.00 pm. This will be a public meeting for which the advertisement at the top of this newsletter will appear in the Seymour Telegraph.

Membership of the co-operative and investment in the project will be by purchase of shares. At that meeting potential members will be asked to formalise their intended share purchase. The mini-survey we carried out recently indicates that there will be no problem in raising the necessary funds.

We will contact separately those of you who have indicated your intention to invest but cannot attend the meeting.

KARINGAL ELDERLY CITIZENS HOSTEL

Karingal has a similar electrical demand to the Aquatic Centre with a similar potential return (almost $30,000 per annum).

After assessing the project ourselves using the Alternative Technology Association’s Sunulater software we developed the project brief, identified appropriately qualified local designer/installers and obtained four quotations to install 99kW of photo-voltaic panels on its (very complex) roof. We presented these to the board along with some recommendations for financing, which did not include community financing as we are not yet set up for it. Karingal have now signed a rental/purchase contract with Origin Energy, who will use an installer from Seymour.

OTHERS

We have been keeping in contact with related activities in the area.

A microgrid being set up at Taggerty might suggest some cost-savings in the public housing in Seymour. We have had discussions with the Taggerty group.

We have also been involved in the establishment of a community retailer that is being set up in Northeast Victoria, to be called Indigo Power.

A number of projects involving retrofitting houses are in the air.

MCE MEMBERSHIP

You can be part of one of the most exciting community action movements in Australia today – producing and conserving energy at the local level.
At the national level, we are still waiting for agreement on a workable energy policy for our country. But across Australia, many local communities are developing creative and exciting projects to provide inexpensive, reliable and environmentally responsible power for their communities.
Mitchell Community Energy is part of that community movement. Join us to make our community a better place and help to reduce our power bills through our own efforts.

Membership is only $20 for an individual or $30 for a family.

You can be kept informed of our projects and opportunities. You can vote at our AGM. And you can take part in our projects – if you wish to.

It is an exciting time to be involved in community energy.

Joining MCE is easy.

Please provide your name, address, phone number/s & email address/es as well as the names of the other persons if you are joining as a couple/family 
PLUS
Pay the annual membership fee by:

+paying direct to our bank account (please include your name in the description)
Account Name:  Mitchell Community Energy
BSB No: 633 000 
Account Number: 161745310

or
​+ paying by cheque and posting with your membership application
to MCE, 113 High Street, Seymour 3660

Jeff Wilmot Secretary 0477 054 666

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