QCOSS was asked by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) to undertake a literature review of community energy and report back on barriers, how it works, successful models, regulatory barriers, and gaps in policy.
This report makes findings and recommendations based on our examination of community energy approaches in Australia, with a view to identify models and features that offer the best opportunity to promote social and economic inclusion for low income and vulnerable customers in the transition to renewable energy.
- Energy is an essential service and Australia’s energy system exists to serve the community and underpins every aspect of our lives.
- A fair and just transition to renewable energy is important for all Queenslanders.
- There are broader environmental, social, and economic benefits that flow from investment to promote equal participation and inclusion in the transition to renewable energy.
- Community energy provides an opportunity for all community members to participate in a fair and just transition to renewable energy.
Recommendation 1: Support for the community energy sector
The Queensland Government should commit to the establishment of community power hubs along the lines of Victorian Community Power Hubs to facilitate community awareness and engagement across Queensland and provide a platform to explore and test ideas and provide confidence to investors.
Recommendation 2: Community energy toolkit for Queensland
Funding should be provided to a Queensland based community energy organisation to develop a community energy toolkit for Queensland. The toolkit should at a minimum cover legal and financial templates for a range of community energy approaches.
Recommendation 3: Grant program for community energy projects in Queensland
The Queensland Government should provide grant funding over 10 years to support the growth and development of community energy projects in Queensland. Funding should prioritise projects that will benefit low income and vulnerable customers. The Queensland Government should also explore ways to ensure low income and vulnerable
consumers can participate in community energy projects (without being exposed to financial risk).
Recommendation 4: Create a supportive policy and regulatory environment
The Queensland Government should create a supportive policy and regulatory environment that provides a level playing field so that the benefits of community energy projects can be realised including by:
- Making a commitment to a community energy target based on the generation capacity and community participation.
- Implementing nationally uniform legislation for Australian co-operatives to allow the use of Co-operative Capital Units (CCUs) in Queensland.
- Ensuring low-income households and renters can participate in community energy projects.
- Considering options to reduce the licencing barriers for community energy projects if certain social benefit criteria are met.
Read the full report: Community Energy in Queensland – Renewable energy opportunities