*Pic: Solar panels on the roof of Tastex Knitwear and Uniforms …

A gathering of community groups is today calling on all parties to support community renewable energy, the missing third sector between large scale wind and hydro and individual homes and businesses going solar.

“We are calling for all political parties to support the burgeoning community energy sector.

This can help regional communities with jobs as well as assisting community groups to beat rising energy costs” said Anton Vikstrom, Energy Program Manager for Sustainable Living Tasmania.

“Tasmania is leading Australia in large wind and hydro projects, and household solar continues to grow, but we are lagging behind in the medium scale, community driven projects that are booming in other states,” said community energy activist Jack Gilding.

Community energy projects enable community members to own, control and benefit from the energy transformation happening in Australia. A local example is Tastex Knitwear and Uniforms. Tastex is a disability enterprise employing people with intellectual disabilities. Crowd funding from supporters and a loan from the non-profit Corena Fund paid for a 30 kW solar PV system which is saving Tastex about $6,000 a year on their electricity bill.

Community projects are pioneering innovative solutions in the transformation to affordable, sustainable, reliable electricity supply. Innovations at the community level include solar for pensioners with no upfront costs, a community owned retailer in NSW and mini-grids for rural communities. Communities are also pioneering relationships with developers of commercial solar and wind projects to enable local community investment and keep more of the financial benefits in the local area.

“We want all the parties to come on board, to support the development of a hub of expertise to support community energy and a pool of funding to help local groups to get their projects off the ground” said Mr Vikstrom.

The launch was held on Tuesday 20 February 2018 at St Vincent Industries, 82A Burnett St, North Hobart. St Vincent Industries is a non-profit business which has dramatically decreased their electricity bills by installing solar PV.

*Jack Gilding is a community energy activist

*Anton Vikstrom is an Energy Program Manager for Sustainable Living Tasmania