News

A simple Christmas

This Christmas story is by AEF’s Jason Cox (pictured). Santa looked out across the North Pole with sadness on his face. Seldom was Santa sad but on this occasion he couldn’t hide the disappointment in his eyes. “What’s wrong Santa” asked Mrs Claus. “You look troubled.” Santa sighed with the weight of more than his generous belly. “I don’t think I want to do Christmas this year.” Mrs Claus was shocked. Christmas was the happiest time of the year and Santa loved it. What could be the problem? Santa continued, “Climate change is hurting the polar bears. Every year they have less space to live because of the melting ice and I feel responsible. At Christmas everyone buys so much stuff and they drive all over the place to buy things. I can deliver presents all over the world with almost no carbon footprint, just a little reindeer flatulence, but

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Podcast interview with MEFL’s Lucy Best

AEF’s Engagement Manager Lucy Best was interviewed recently about domestic solar power for the Undercover Architect podcast. It’s such a big topic they needed 2 episodes to cover it all! Lucy knows the topic inside-out and cuts through the jargon to explain the choices and issues clearly. Both parts are now available. See the intro page to Part 1 on Undercover Architect See the intro page to Part 2 on Undercover Architect …or just click the play buttons below to listen now.

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Portal proves its value

Gippsland’s Energy Innovation Co-op (EICo-op) is one of many local community energy groups around Victoria powering ahead with locally-managed sustainable energy projects. EICo-op is running a range of initiatives in South Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley. The group also collaborated with AEF and other community groups in the Victorian Community Solar Alliance to create the Community Solar Portal. The value of the Portal has been proven in two of EICo-op’s recent projects, which have used its resources to get up and running.

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AEF’s international hit videos

Back in 2011 AEF produced a series of advice videos demonstrating simple home energy-efficiency actions – replacing halogen downlights with LEDs, draught sealing, low-flow shower heads etc. They were made in 8 languages – English, Turkish, Urdu, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek and Mandarin. Positive Charge followed up a couple of years later with another series, including videos in Spanish, Cantonese and Macedonian. The videos were well received at the time, but over the years those videos have steadily increased in reach and popularity, with some exceeding all expectations!

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Cities Power Partnership Summit

AEF’s Head of Development Kate Nicolazzo was a speaker at Cities Power Partnership’s Summit in October. The theme was “Accelerating Local Action” and Kate spoke about the range of projects MEFL is undertaking in partnership with local councils, business, and communities. Speakers from councils, state government agencies, non-profits and academia discussed and celebrated the good work local councils are doing to fight climate change.

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Alison Rowe to chair ISCA

The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) has appointed AEF’s CEO, Alison Rowe, as Chair of its Board. ISCA is the peak body for sustainable infrastructure in Australia and New Zealand.  It is a member-based, not-for-profit organisation that advances sustainability outcomes in infrastructure.  The principal means by which ISCA advances sustainability is through the IS rating scheme, a third-party assured, performance-based reporting framework for design, construction and operation of assets. ISCA’s members include large construction contractors, consultants, government transport authorities, peak bodies and councils.

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Changes to AEF Board

There has been quite a bit of change on the AEF Board recently. As we reported in the last eBulletin, Ian Thomas and Rosemary Bissett retired from the Board after serving some 18 years each. We are pleased to welcome Nikki Potter as a Director on the AEF Board. Nikki formally joined Board in September 2018. We are also pleased to welcome Sarah Paparo as the new Company Secretary (also joining in September). At our AGM on 23 October we also held an election the position of Community Director. Imogen Jubb was elected as the new Community elected Director. Welcome Imogen! We sadly farewell Catherine Leslie who has served on the Board as the Community Director for 4 years.  We wish Catherine well and thank her for her dedication and contribution to AEF.

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Energy Poverty

This is the text of a speech given by AEF’s CEO Alison Rowe at the ACOSS “Rise to the Challenge” Conference in Sydney on 29-30 October. The gap between those who have solar and those who don’t is widening. It raises the concern around the costs for those who are left behind on the grid; do they pay more for electricity? Energy poverty impacts more and more Australians, with the most vulnerable members being those on low incomes, including pensioners, students, and concession card holders. This increases when you consider renters and large families.

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CERES zero emissions EcoHouse

Over the past year AEF’s Zero Carbon Evolution and Positive Charge teams have been working with CERES to upgrade their EcoHouse to become an all-electric, zero emissions home. Previously the house used gas for cooking and hot water heating. As gas is a fossil fuel this needed to be replaced if CERES are to meet their goal of zero emissions by 2025.

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Climate Emergency conference

AEF’s Manny Pasqualini gave a very well-received presentation at Darebin City Council’s Climate Emergency Conference in September. Manny spoke about the burgeoning community energy sector in Victoria. He described the various factors that are driving the expansion of the sector; political, environmental, economic, technological and social. Trends and innovations Manny’s presentation covered some of the major trends and innovations in community energy, including community electricity retailers, medium-scale solar projects, microgrids and regional alliances. He also featured the work that AEF has done in partnership with the Victorian Community Solar Alliance to support community solar groups by creating the Community Solar Toolkit. Manny’s presentation slides are available for download

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Securing our energy future

Law firm Corrs is publishing a series of online interviews titled Securing our Energy Future. For the second in the series, Corrs interviewed AEF’s CEO Alison Rowe. The interview covered a wide range of topics related to AEF’s vision of an equitable zero carbon society. They discussed how communities can make the energy transition despite a fragmented approach at Federal and State level, how policies translate to action ‘on the ground’, investment in renewables, AEF’s own efforts to ‘walk the talk’ and be a sustainable organisation, and Australia’s opportunity to be a world leader. The full interview is available on the Corrs website.  

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Thanks to Ian Thomas and Rosemary Bissett

AEF will remain ever thankful to Ian Thomas and Rosemary Bissett for their service to the AEF Board. Rosemary served as a Director and Ian as the Company Secretary. They have both been on the Board since the inception of AEF, totalling  36 years of service and dedication to AEF. Rosemary and Ian attended their last Board meeting in September. We will miss their wisdom, humour, guidance and support. In recognition of their contribution to AEF, they were both awarded Life Membership, so we hope to see them at the AGM soon.

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Zero Carbon 2040

At its meeting on 12 September, Moreland City Council adopted the Zero Carbon Evolution (ZCE) Refresh to 2020 and the 2040 Framework, as well as declaring a climate emergency. The Refresh is a comprehensive update of Council’s ZCE 2020 Strategy and the 2040 Framework extends the vision for a further 20 years. These strategies were developed by AEF for the Council and will ensure that Moreland is at the leading edge of local action on climate change.

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Microgrid pilot

AEF is a partner in Ovida’s Community Energy Hub project, which received a $980,000 grant from the Labor Government’s Microgrid Demonstration Initiative earlier this month. The $2 million project will install shared solar PV and battery systems in three buildings in Melbourne to help cut energy costs for tenants. The initiative will benefit approximately 650 customers, generate 5000 kWh of solar energy and support 11,000 kWh of energy storage.

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AEF in the running for award

A partnership between AEF and Moreland City Council has been named a finalist in the prestigious Premier’s Sustainability Awards. The Cooling Communities project has been nominated in the Environmental Justice category for reducing the effects of urban heat on social housing residents.

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Community energy ‘roadshow’

AEF’s CEO Alison Rowe and Head of Engagement Rachel Maddocks travelled around North-East Victoria in early August to speak alongside good friends Nicky Ison from Community Power Agency, Kate Auty and local community energy groups including Renewable Albury Wodonga, Totally Sustainable Tallangatta, Totally Renewable Beechworth and Sustainable Upper Ovens. Community Retailer The Community Energy Forum and roadshow around North-East Victoria for the week was created by Totally Renewable Yackandandah who got everyone together to talk to locals about the proposal to set up a North-East Victoria Community Energy Retailer. Throughout the week Alison and Rachel spoke with 450 locals at community meetings in Wodonga, Wangaratta, Bright, Benalla, Beechworth and Tallangatta. The North-East has the community energy Alison and Rachel also helped launch Sustainable Upper Ovens, a new group planning to start up community projects to decrease their waste and energy use in Upper Ovens communities. There is loads of action in the North-East

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Positive Charge achievements

AEF’s Positive Charge program had a busy and productive year in 2017-18, expanding its operations interstate and helping households and businesses to go solar and install energy efficiency measures. Amongst the highlights for the year: 3.8 megawatts of solar was installed through Positive Charge across the 28 subscribing councils in Victoria and New South Wales. Over 30 businesses across Vic and NSW went through the Solar for Business program, 12 of which installed 720kW of solar Positive Charge is now delivering services to 10 councils in New South Wales as part of the Our Energy Future initiative by the Southern Sydney Region of Councils (SSROC). We have 2 staff members in NSW delivering the community energy service, providing information, advice and supplier pathways for local residents. We’re investigating other energy efficiency products, such as hot water heat pumps and reverse cycle air conditioning to include as part of our offering,

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Simon Corbell plenary speaker at Spark!

Victoria’s Renewable Energy Advocate Simon Corbell has accepted our invitation to be a keynote speaker at the opening plenary session on Day 2 of Spark! Simon brings a wealth of experience and insights to Spark! including his 19 months as Victoria’s first Renewable Energy Advocate.

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John Thwaites joins us at Spark!

We are delighted to announce that John Thwaites has accepted our invitation to deliver an oration at Spark! 2018, in honour of the late Mike Hill. The oration will close out the first day of the conference. About John Thwaites John Thwaites is a Professorial Fellow, Monash University, and Chair of ClimateWorks Australia and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

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