A community retailer offers energy to local customers at competitive rates, supports local renewable generation and allows residents to participate and own the business. It is similar to a normal retailer which sells electricity and issues bills but differs in where the electricity comes from and who shares in the ownership of the retailing entity. Examples are common overseas but not yet tested in Australia.
To kick start this initiative a call for tenders to develop a business plan will be announced in August, with the plan to be developed by mid 2015. The business plan will need to provide a fair price for renewable generation matched to local demand, create local enterprise and provide energy security for the Northern Rivers. The plan will also address how a community retailer could help overcome structural and economic barriers to regional renewable energy.
The project is led by the Total Environment Centre together with a consortium including Starfish and Southern Cross University, Sustain Norther Rivers (Energy Working Group), NSW Trade and Investment, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the North Coast Energy Forum.
Funding has been secured for the preparation of the business plan to be accompanied by an application to the regulator for a retail licence, with the expectation that a retailer could be up and running within 12 months.
The timing of pursuing a Community Energy Retailer for the Northern Rivers is linked with Australia’s highest residential and business uptake of Solar Pv, Lismore City Council’s 100% Renewable Energy Master Plan and strong community support ~ particularly evidenced by the North Coast Energy Forum and Sustain Northern Rivers.
Media coverage of the launch:
Community energy retailer to take on Australia’s big three | REnew Economy
People power takes on big energy retailers | Echonet Daily